With the worst kept secret in Australian sport now well and truly out of the bag, Australian football at an elite level appears to be just months away from being on its knees.
Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic is relaxed about his team’s winless start to the A-League season, saying their new arrivals need time to find their feet.
Last year’s premiers have started their campaign with 1-1 draws against Brisbane Roar and newcomers Western United.
The Glory will back up last week’s visit to Geelong with an even longer road trip, travelling to Wellington to face the Phoenix on Sunday.
While high-profile signing Bruno Fornaroli has commanded attention, Gregory Wuthrich, Osama Malik, Jacob Tratt and Kim Soo-Beom have also slotted straight into Perth’s lineup.
“I think they just need time,” Popovic told reporters on Thursday.
“There’s five to six new players on the pitch at the moment. The majority of those are in the backline, the majority of those players have hardly played in the last month.
“But you can see the first half of both games, there are really good positive signs there which is really encouraging.
“It’s also very pleasing that under fatigue in the second half in Melbourne we could come back. The character is really strong in this group.”
Ivan Franjic will return for Perth after missing the opening round through suspension and last week’s game with soreness.
Perth will start strong favourites against the bottom-placed Nix and Popovic said the increased expectation on the club was a good thing.
“Our players and fans are disappointed now when we get a draw away from home in Melbourne,” Popovic said.
“That shows how far we’ve come.
“We want to keep delivering the results and continue our hard work and hopefully the performances will increase in minutes, then ultimately I believe the results will follow.”
Popovic expects greater competition for spots in coming weeks with Jake Brimmer and Tomislav Mrcela close to returning from injuries.
The new forward-line combination of Fornaroli, Diego Castro and young gun Chris Ikonomidis is already looming as a major weapon.
“In training every day, we’re learning more and more about each other,” Ikonomidis said.
“Things are going to really start clicking on the pitch and there’s going to be a lot of chances and goals.
“(Fornaroli) is very good at hold-up play, (having his) back to goal and creating a little bit of space for himself to finish.
“I just kind of watch that and take a bit of visual learning from it.”