Wiser GCU set to challenge

It's a case of being one-year older and one-year wiser for Gold Coast United, and with the newcomer tag officially handed over to Melbourne Heart, foundation player Zenon Caravella believes the glamour club now knows what it'll take to win the title.

It's a case of being one-year older and one-year wiser for Gold Coast United, and with the newcomer tag officially handed over to Melbourne Heart, foundation player Zenon Caravella believes the glamour club now knows what it'll take to win the title.

Providing a creative spark in United's midfield structure last year, Caravella remained largely in the shadows cast by Hyundai A-League golden boot winner Shane Smeltz and Qantas Socceroo Jason Culina, but some strong performances including the winning strike against Melbourne Victory in Round 25 last year showed just what the pint-sized star is capable of.

Looking forward to challenging for Hyundai A-League honours once again, the relaxed but focused midfield maestro agreed the pressure to perform was off the club this season, however the desire to improve he said, was still burning strong.

"I don't think there's going to be too much pressure on us this year," the 27-year-old said.

"We just have to go out and do what we do and the results will follow, obviously as a team we'd like to improve on last year and compete at the top-end of the table," Caravella said.

"As players we didn't really pressure ourselves last year to get results because we all knew we were a new team."

"But I certainly think the pressure will be on new teams like Melbourne Heart, they've been recruiting fairly well so they'll definitely be looking for results."

Laying his faith in the structures formulated last season and taking confidence in the fact FIFA World Cup stars Culina and Smeltz remain committed to the club, colourful head coach Miron Bleiberg has resisted the temptation to change the dynamics of his squad adding just two new additions into the mix.

Attracted by the warmth and sunshine, former Manchester United defender John Curtis has made his way over to Australia from England, while experienced gloveman Glen Moss has stepped in to fill United's vacant number one jersey after first-choice goalkeeper Jess Vanstrattan decided to return home and join the Central Coast Mariners.

With an established squad that's fit and ready to go, Caravella maintained that the team knows what to expect this time around and anticipated the added experience of last season will prove to be the difference.

"We've been together now for a full season and we're one year wiser than we were last year," he said.

"We know what we need to do against every team in the A-League and I think the experience factor really comes into play with teams that have been around for a while."

While a reliance on an experienced playing group seems to be the focus this season, a win for United's talented youth-squad in last season's National Youth League Grand Final has seen a strong culture of promising youngsters emerge to stake their claim for a shot in the Hyundai A-League.

Striker Chris Harrold and attacking winger Golgol Mebrahtu have been impressive in recent pre-season hit-outs netting goals in almost every game, and a clearly impressed Caravella says he welcomes the extra competition.

"There are a lot of young boys coming through at the moment and they're doing very well."

"For me personally I think it's good to have young players pushing for a starting position... some of the older guys are having to look over their shoulder and see who's fighting for their position."

"Ultimately that improves the training, and improves the games, because you know you have to constantly prove yourself week in week out."

Quizzed about his own expectations for the season, the reserved Caravella said he's ready to bear extra responsibility in midfield this season with more goals his personal aim.

"I was happy with the way I went last year and hopefully this year I can bag a few more goals from midfield," he said.

"I think it's important that we chip in with our fair share of goals rather than leaving all the responsibility up to our strikers," Caravella said.

Gold Coast kicks-off their 2010/11 Hyundai A-League campaign with the first M1 derby against fierce rivals Brisbane Roar at Skilled Park on Sunday August 8.