Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson has insisted his squad remains fully focused upon securing a top-six finish despite their off-field sagas.
Last Saturday’s defeat against Wellington saw the men in purple slip to the foot of the A-League ladder and that disappointment was further compounded by defender Michael Thwaite’s comments regarding a perceived lack of direction at the club, and news of owner Tony Sage’s serious health issues.
But Ferguson denied morale within the playing group had been adversely affected.
“The one thing that these boys have got is that togetherness,” he said.
“I hear people saying that they’re at each other down at training, but if they are at each other it’s because they care, because they’ve got high standards and they’re not happy with where the team is sitting at the moment.
“Their morale and their appetite for the game is as strong as it was when the season started and the spirits in the group are really good bearing in mind where we are at the moment.
“But they realise as well that sometimes football gives you that kick up the backside that you need.
“In my personal opinion, we shouldn’t be in this position with the football that we’ve played this season, but unfortunately we are and we’ve got to get ourselves out of it.
“Unfortunately, things sometimes get blown out of proportion and it’ll just be nice just to get the boys back out on the park again.”
Next on the agenda for Glory is an away clash with Melbourne Heart on Saturday and Ferguson feels that the A-League has almost broken into two separate competitions as the season heads into its final furlong.
“We are approaching a crunch stage now where six teams are fighting for two spots and it’s going to break into a mini-league with eight games to go.
“We’ve got to keep positive and we need our supporters to stick by us.
“We are starting to play the teams that are around us now and the next four games are absolutely crucial for us.”
And with his side having lost just twice in six visits to AAMI Park, the Glory coach believes they are more than capable of securing their first win of 2013.
“We’ve got a good record against them over there and we can definitely take some confidence from that.
“And we’ve got some good experienced players coming back in, so with some of the younger ones adding some pace, we can put a strong side out and hopefully get the job done.
“Heart always have good players, Matt Thompson is very dangerous, they’ve brought back Eli Babalj and David Williams has great energy and can hurt you at any moment.
“So we’ve got to make sure we try and nullify these players and play to our strengths and our potential.”
Ferguson went on to confirm that defender Scott Jamieson (foot) and midfielder Jacob Burns (back) will not be included in the travelling party, but Argentine import Mathias Cordoba is a chance to make his debut off the bench.
“Cordoba has been training with us and looks good,” he said.
“He’s just got his visa through this week and we’re hoping to maybe get him on for 20 minutes or so on Saturday.”