John van ‘t Schip says Melbourne City won’t change their approach to next week’s game away to Perth Glory despite the Western Australian side being excluded from this season’s Hyundai A-League finals series.
City are in action at nib Stadium next Sunday against the competition’s third-placed team, who are level on points with the league leaders and had been challenging for what could have been their first Premier’s Plate.
Kenny Lowe’s men will be demoted to seventh place at the end of the regular season though after Football Federation Australia deemed them to have systematically breached the salary cap.
On Friday, hours after the punishment was announced, a crestfallen Glory side slumped to a 3-0 loss at home to title challengers Sydney FC.
And van ‘t Schip knows his players, who played out a 0-0 draw at home to Wellington Phoenix on Sunday evening, could encounter an unusual atmosphere when they visit Perth next weekend.
“Of course now the league is maybe a bit different because of Perth having this suspension ... but we (will) approach the games equally,” the head coach said.
“You never know how teams are reacting now because they know Perth are out. But if you look at the game today we were full on. Wellington was full on.
“We’re playing against Perth (next weekend), they want to, I’m sure, show their fans that they don’t agree with what happened and give them at least a good finish (to) the year, because they’ve had a good season overall. Especially for the players it’s hard.
“For us it’s going up there, preparing for the game as usual and try to go there and secure our finals spot that we want so badly.”
The goalless draw with Phoenix to end Round 25 leaves City sixth, four points ahead of Brisbane Roar, who have a game in hand on their direct rivals.
Having drawn two and won three of their last five matches, van ‘t Schip believes his players are finally showing what they are capable. And that run of form may have arrived at just the right time as far as the impending playoff campaign is concerned.
“I think we’re very hard to beat,” he said.
“(We’re) difficult for teams to get through and on the ball we’re good going forward. There’s more consistency in our performance and a lot we (still) want to improve.”