Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou says his side have failed to gain the momentum he wanted heading into the A-League finals series.
With a top-two spot all but out of the question after being belted 6-2 by Central Coast in February, Postecoglou set his sights on finishing the season strongly.
But regular changes to the starting line-up hindered Victory’s chances in the final five games of the season as they claimed two wins, including a 3-2 triumph over Wellington on Sunday.
Speaking at the launch of the A-League finals series on Tuesday, Postecoglou said he expected more but was nonetheless confident his players could get the job done, beginning with the elimination final against Perth Glory on Friday night.
“We’ve been pretty disrupted with injuries and absences through internationals, but it is what it is,” he said.
“That’s why Sunday was important for us. I think it gave us a chance with the bulk of our team out there to go into it feeling good about it.
“It hasn’t been the wave of momentum that I would’ve liked, but at the same time, the players have been pretty resilient through it.
“I’m pretty harsh on what we do and we set our standards very high. Other clubs will probably be rapt to finish third, we haven’t been. We want to be top every year.
“When you put it against that measure, maybe people are underplaying how good we are, but that’s fine with me as well.
“I’d rather go in there with people underestimating us than thinking we’re going to take it all before us.
“I’ve been very hard on the players this year and they’ve come through it. I’ve been very pleased with the way they’ve come through it and I can tell you one thing – they’re ready for finals football.”
Postecoglou was delighted to come through the trip to New Zealand without any fresh injury concerns.
The constant changes to the line-up have caused Victory problems defensively, keeping just one clean sheet in their past 10 outings.
But the former Brisbane Roar coach, who has won six grand finals in as many appearances as a player and mentor, said it was no concern.
“As long as you score more than the opposition you win games and we’re third on the ladder, so we’re going OK,” Postecoglou said.
The revamped finals series means one of the top two is no longer assured a grand final spot and Postecoglou said third place had a better opportunity than in previous seasons.