Adelaide United coach Michael Valkanis says his team cannot rest on their laurels after cruising past Melbourne Heart 2-0 on Monday.
The Reds moved nine points clear of fifth-placed Sydney FC with the victory and now need just one point from their remaining three matches to be certain of a top-four finish and a guaranteed match at home in the first week of the A-League finals.
But Valkanis believes Adelaide need to forget about the table and start concentrating on performing consistently in the run-in to the finals.
“We have had our ups and down in form, but we need to switch on and keep it on,” Valkanis said.
“You keep thinking that we have got games in front of us and we are in the finals, but we just need to think about it a game at a time.”
Valkanis admitted that results had gone Adelaide’s way in recent weeks, leaving virtually no pressure on his side to perform.
“Adelaide for a long time have been sitting in a good position on the ladder, very comfortable and all the media talk has been the top four is set and just all the rest are trying to find positions in the top six,” he said.
“Sometimes it is very easy to get in that mindset to get in the comfort zone and think there is the next game, we can switch on whenever we want and we will be in the finals anyway.
“But that doesn’t mean you are going to play good football and that doesn’t mean you will be in the top six.”
Valkanis said his team must put the impressive performance in Melbourne behind them immediately and turn their attention to their home game against Newcastle on Friday night.
“From tomorrow morning the focus will be on the next game against Newcastle,” he said.
“Make no doubt about it Newcastle are fighting to be in the top six and for us it is about finding that form and not waiting for the finals to flick on the switch.
“The players know this and have talked about this at length. They have made a great step moving forwards and now it is about keeping it up.”
Heart counterpart John Aloisi said his side would not give up on sneaking into the top six and playing finals for the second consecutive season.
Aloisi’s side sit three points behind sixth-placed Newcastle, but tough matches against Western Sydney, Brisbane and Central Coast in the final three rounds makes it a tall order for Heart to climb into the finals positions.
“We have made it hard for ourselves, but we will move on to the next game and try and pick the boys up and try and beat Western Sydney,” Aloisi said after the loss to Adelaide.
“We had been winning at home on a consistent basis, but we had made it hard on ourselves by not picking up points away from home.
“Now we have to turn that around. Win at home next week and then pick up points away from home.
“We won’t give up. It is still close and we have still got a chance of making the six so we have just got to do what we can and pick up the points.”