Cooling his heels ... Mark Bridge. Photo: Brendan Esposito
WESTERN SYDNEY might be chasing their seventh win in a row against second from the bottom Perth Glory on Saturday night, but striker Mark Bridge has a warning for the rest of the A-League, claiming his teammates can still make vast improvement.
The Wanderers' remarkable form has been the talk of the A-League this season and, after Central Coast fell to a shock 2-1 defeat against the Glory in Perth last weekend, the newcomers are just one point away from top spot with six matches left to play.
However, Bridge – who himself has arguably been in career-best form this season – reckons there are holes in the team that need to be patched if they are to claim a piece of history at the end of the season.
"We're on a bit of a roll at the moment but in the last couple of weeks we probably haven't been at our best despite getting the results. Once we turn that around, it's only going to get better," he said at training on Tuesday.
"I don't think we've been at our peak. Although I still think we're playing quite good, we turned the ball over a lot on the weekend, which is a shame. But it's a tough trip to Melbourne and to come back with those three points is excellent, considering we weren't at our best."
Bridge says that while wins might be good for confidence, there's no concern about big heads. "It's the same as we've always been looking at it. I know everyone here always says that – one week at a time, blah, blah, blah – but we really are.
"The result on the weekend with Central Coast went our way but we've still got another week before we play them. The boys are very grounded and so far that's working."
New Perth coach Alistair Edwards has already enforced a passing-based style for his side but Bridge said he would still be preparing for a physical duel, as the Glory have become known for in recent times.
"At the end of the day, they're still Perth, still very physical, very strong and they always make for tough competition. It's going to be tough this week."
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic closely analysed the Glory's win over the Mariners and says they will be a rejuvenated side after toppling the ladder leaders. "They have changed the way they play a bit, and that happens when a new manager comes in, with different ideas. You will find that anywhere in the world," he said. "They played well against Central Coast, and the result will breed some confidence for them. They will come here believing they can continue on like that.
"But we have got to concentrate on our game. We're on a great run. We will certainly show Perth the respect they deserve but we're at home and if we play to our capabilities we have got to believe we will get the three points."
Western Sydney were dominated in possession by Melbourne Victory – the home side boasted 55 per cent of the ball and had twice as many shots – but Popovic said those numbers meant little to him.
"Everyone's got views and perceptions as what is deemed good possession and not good possession," he said. "The main thing is that we are happy the way we play. We're happy with the way we move the ball and we'll just continue on improving our game." Popovic also defended his team against the observation that they relied predominantly on counter-attacking against the Victory.
"We didn't sit back against Melbourne Victory. What we do with possession is the relevant thing to us. We would like to control the tempo against Perth, but we'll see how the game pans out. We go into every game with a positive frame of mind, to push on and try to win the match."
While Popovic admits that he would like to see more goals from Croatian striker Dino Kresinger – who has only scored once – he hasn't counted out the 30-year-old winning a new deal next year.
"He's playing a key role for us in our team and we're happy with how he's playing. He's a No.9, he'd like to score more goals and we'd like him to see him score more goals," Popovic said.
"He, like, all the other players, we'll make a decision on as we go along and we'll decide, more than likely, towards the end of the season."