Ange Postecoglou insists Melbourne Victory can go all the way in their A-League finals campaign despite a lacklustre finish to the season.
With only two wins from their last eight games of the regular season, Victory head into the finals riding a wave of sketchy form – although they did enjoy a hard-fought 3-2 away win over Wellington on Sunday.
Victory take on Perth Glory in a do-or-die elimination final at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, and the Melbourne Victory coach was adamant his side would not just be making up the numbers at the business end of the season.
“Obviously on the eve of a finals series, there’s a little bit of excitement, a little nervousness but certainly the anticipation of a big crowd and a big game tomorrow,” Postecoglou said.
“We’re very confident, and I’m certainly not the kind of person that goes into a finals series without the belief that we can win the competition.
“We’re not there just to take part – we’ve been preparing for this all year.
“We’re there now, so we’ll make sure we give it our best shot and I reckon our best shot will go pretty close.”
The Glory were languishing at the bottom of the A-League ladder in February, with coach Ian Ferguson sacked and replaced by club stalwart Alistair Edwards.
That appointment triggered a turnaround that saw them win four and draw one of their past seven games to snare sixth place.
And Postecoglou is wary of the team his Brisbane side narrowly defeated in last season’s Grand Final.
“They’ve obviously improved their fortunes over the last few weeks. They were probably, when Ian Ferguson departed, looking at being a long shot for the finals,” he said.
“They’ve tweaked things a little bit, but I guess more than anything there’s a psychology to it too – a new coach comes in and everyone wants to prove themselves.
“And they can play with a little bit of freedom too, knowing that probably everyone sort of wrote them off.
“They’ve still got some quality players – they made the final last year. A lot of those players will be backing up tomorrow.”
Postecoglou feels his side’s experience playing in front of big crowds at home will stand them in good stead for the Etihad Stadium blockbuster.
“The tempo, intensity – especially early on – is always up a notch (in finals),” Postecoglou said.
“The beauty of that, in terms of us, is that we get that every second week playing at home. Hopefully we’re better prepared than anyone else.
“I think playing for this football club prepares you well for finals games. We’ve played derby games here, the games against Sydney and Adelaide, and even the Western Sydney games – they’re big games on a weekly basis.
“Our players are constantly under that scrutiny of pressure.”