Western Sydney Wanderers have heard the doubters. They are well aware many of the Hyundai A-League experts have already written them off for the 2018/19 Season.
And skipper Brendan Hamill knows the best way to answer the critics is by performing on the pitch, starting with Sunday’s tricky trip to play Perth Glory.
The Wanderers head west with some scratchy recent pre-season results under their belt, including a 3-0 FFA Cup Semi Final loss to Sydney FC and heavy friendly defeats against Newcastle Jets (4-0) and Melbourne City (4-1).
After the tumult of their 2017/18 Season, where they missed the Finals Series which saw coach Josep Gombau lose his job, huge question marks hang over their chances this campaign.
“Analysts have their job to predict, that’s their thoughts. [But] we’re in here every day, we know what goes on, we know what we’ve done in pre-season and we know the personnel we have,” Hamill told reporters on Friday.
“It’s in our hands and we just have to do our talking on the pitch.
“Pre-season form is one thing and form in the season is another.
“We had a decent FFA Cup run with competitive games. We take negatives and positives from the pre-season and we turn them into our advantage as best we can for the season.”
Wanderers boss Markus Babbel added: “The experts have a different opinion [to us] but we try to show what we can do.
“We know it’s not easy because it’s a tough league, all the teams are very close together.
“We’ll try to do our style of football, we want to show our best and then we’ll see what can happen.”
Interestingly, the Wanderers’ first test sees them come up against former coach Tony Popovic, now in charge of his own resurrection job in Perth.
Popovic enjoyed huge success in his five seasons at Western Sydney, guiding the club to three Grand Finals, winning a Premiership as well as the 2014 AFC Champions League.
While admitting Popovic’s intimate knowledge of the club could work in Glory’s favour, Hamill says the Wanderers are also aware of their former boss’ style.
“I was with him for four years so I understand how he wants things done, how he operates as a manager and what he expects of his players,” the defender said.
“That’s handy to know but he’s got a new club behind him, a new group of players and I think a new way of playing.
“We just have to focus on ourselves as we have been doing. Every game we have been playing we have been getting better and better. It’s been evident, especially in that FFA Cup run we had.
“At the end of the day it’s 90 minutes on the pitch between two teams. It’s between the players and we’re going to do our utmost to get the desired result.”
The Wanderers have some injury issues heading into Round 1, with Mark Bridge, Patrick Ziegler and Kosta Grozos all unavailable, while Raul Llorente still has to prove his fitness.