Canberra United's head coach Vicki Linton likes to piece her side together like a jigsaw puzzle, each piece as important as the other, and it's what she attributes to the side's success last season.
Fourteen players have signed on for United's 2021-22 A-League Women's season so far, with the competition's greatest ever goal scorer Michelle Heyman among them.
However Linton is quick to point out a side's sum is greater than its parts, as she looks to the upcoming campaign.
"[Michelle] had a really great season last year. She's important to us, but at the end of the day, she just needs to turn up like that, like everyone else does, and that contributes to the team. We're no good if we've just got Michelle Heyman ... or anyone else," she said.
"That's what is exciting about the new season and a new group of players ... how do we combine, how does that complement each other and how does that bring the best out of those different players, and that's going to be fun. To me that's what I enjoy as a coach, bringing people together on the same page, and seeing what happens."
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The side was knocked out in the semi-finals last season by Sydney FC, after returning to the finals series fold for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
With another finals appearance the goal, Linton is taking the same approach she did last season and sticking by her philosophy of building her team, using all the available pieces each week.
"I'm not set on my formation. My objective as a coach is to get the right players in the right positions that work," she said.
"I generally have a couple of formations in mind, we try it out through pre-season, and we try and get the right combinations of people. We did that in preseason last year, and we were able to utilise both during the season.
"The W-League is short and ... each year is a little bit different, so you have to rebuild again. It takes some time during the season to find exactly the right formation or the right system or the right combination ... but I think there's a benefit in being a little bit flexible and not trying to force square pegs into round holes."
United has signed 14 players ahead of the season's December 3 kick-off. Last season's semi-finalists have signed Lauren Keir, Hayley Taylor-Young, Richards, Maher, Michelle Heyman, Emma Ilijoski, Laura Hughes, Allira Toby, Holly Caspers, Margot Robinne, Chloe Middleton, Beth Mason-Jones, Alexia Karrys-Stahl and Mikayla Vidmar so far.
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