Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Danny Vukovic doesn’t need to be reminded that he hasn’t quite performed to his usual high standards this season, the level that made him one of Kevin Muscat’s key targets when he opted to leave Perth Glory at the end of last year following the WA club’s salary cap rorting scandal.
Vukovic was a stand out for Glory, having made his name at Central Coast where he began as a youngster in the A-League’s first season.
But for one reason or another – personal inconsistency, difficulties in adjusting to a new set of colleagues, the intensity of playing for the nation’s biggest soccer club or just errors by his defensive partners – Vukovic has not looked as steady this year as he has in the past.
It’s something he admits, and he is big enough to acknowledge that he, along with everyone else at Victory, needs to lift if they are to get out of the mid-season slump which saw them lose a club record four games on the spin in December before stuttering to a 1-1 draw with Glory on December 27.
“I have been inconsistent, and that’s out of character for me. Whether it’s the move I don’t know. I know I have got a lot better in me, and me at my best can certainly help this team be the best that they can be,” he said on Thursday morning.
” I am a little bit disappointed with how I have been going. Everyone has their ups and downs and I have probably had a few downs. There’s always pressure playing for this club.”
Vukovic’s uncertainty has been symptomatic of Victory ever since it lost skipper Carl Valeri to a long term injury at the end of November. The team hasn’t been as solid in defence, and it has not been as potent in attack as it was in the first part of the season, having scored only twice in the past five games and one of them from the penalty spot.
“We just have little moments of lapses in concentration. There was a moment just before halftime against Glory, from a throw in, Chris Harold had a one on one opportunity from a simple throw in.
“So (what’s needed is) just a bit more concentration from the 11 on the park.
“We need to keep a clean sheet, we haven’t kept one since the Wellington game, a 3-0 win at Etihad.
“We need to get back to basics, the one on one defending at times can be a bit better. We’ve been a bit unlucky, balls falling to players after they’ve been tackled, but it’ll come, we’re not panicking.”
Muscat said after the Glory draw that he and the players had to have a think about the way everything was being done if they were to lift themselves out of their current malaise.
Vukovic said that the coach might have been disappointed with the last display, but that he was still upbeat about their prospects for an away trip to what has historically been a hoodoo ground, Newcastle. The Jets have not won for weeks, but Victory, whom they beat 1-0 early in the season, is one of the scalps Scott Miller’s side has taken this season.
“Kevin has been very positive. We always train pretty hard , the intensity is always at a premium here. We believe you train the way you play, that’s what we have done.
“We were disappointing against Perth definitely, but we were leading the game 1-0 so we certainly could have held on. But its a good chance on Sunday to start the year off well and get a good result.
“In the five games that we have not won, certainly had things gone differently the results could have been more positive. We are going to remain positive, try to rectify things this Sunday.
Vukovic has had experience of the Asian Champions League with Central Coast, so he is acutely aware of the need to snap the run of poor results and put some points on the board before Victory’s Asian odyssey begins in February.
For clubs competing in the continental competition as well as vying for A-League honours the fixtures come thick and fast and fatigue becomes a big issue, as the experience of Western Sydney Wanderers showed last season.
“If you look at the history of the teams that played when you are competing in the ACL its always tough backing up domestically, especially with the travel.
“We definitely want to get as many points on the board prior to going to that tournament, but we back ourselves in every game.”
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