Don’t stop believin’. Hold on to that feelin’ – Aloisi says Western United players are buying into the Journey.

Top of the table with a game in hand, Western United’s players are “starting to believe” according to their head coach John Aloisi. 

Buoyed by two goals from Ben Garuccio – the latter of the two a “scorpion” goal that quickly went viral around the world – Western ensured that they would remain the A-League Men’s pacesetters with a 3-2 win over Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday: their seventh win of the campaign. 

Set to welcome Sydney FC to AAMI Park on Wednesday evening, their second last home game at the venue before they take home games to Ballarat and Tasmania, Western can not only ensure that they remain in front of City on the table but also equal their total of wins from the 2020-21 campaign with a triumph over the Sky Blues.  

Perhaps due to the club’s nascent fanbase and position as the little brother on the Melbourne A-League scene – as well as the club’s predilection for 1-0 wins – the club’s form has flown under the radar this season even in their hometown but internally, Aloisi says that the psychological boost from the results is noticeable in the playing group’s performance on matchday and on the training track. 

“I think the boys are starting to believe that we’re always improving,” he said on Tuesday. “We’re looking to improve, we’re competing for each game with whoever is put in front of us and that we’re building. 

“We’re not talking about where we are on the table or where we want to be. Everyone knows that every club wants to be there at the end of the season competing for silverware. We’re no different. 

“But we’re just focused on improving each game and each session. But you can see the lift in the players, you see the confidence growing in the playing group. And that’s important – and that comes with results. 

“[There is a growing belief in] the culture and whatever we’re trying to build at this football club and the journey that we’re on. 

“You see that in the way they’re walking around: the way that they’re training, the confidence that they have now. In some of the sessions, the intensity is higher than normal and that’s normal because you get confident when you win football games. We’ve played some difficult sides and we’ve been able to come out on top so that gives us some belief.”

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Of course, when one of your squad has possibly scored the greatest goal in A-Leagues history on the weekend, and you one, it’s also pretty easy to hold your head high in training the next day. 

Not that the Western left-back has been getting too far ahead of himself. 

It hasn’t been too bad, actually,” Aloisi said. “He’s a pretty level headed guy. Obviously, he was excited, I think he was just as excited because he scored – he hadn’t scored in a long time. 

“But it was an unbelievable goal. Every time I see it I’m a little bit shocked how he scored that. I don’t think he’d be able to do that again, not even in training. 

“Aleks [Aleksander Prijovic] has mentioned his ball, he mentioned a few times it was a good cross. He said that he made it happen. But Benny had the icing on the cake.”

Absent from the side in the win over Western Sydney, Connor Pain will once again not feature tomorrow evening, and Alessandro Diamanti is also unlikely to make the quick turnaround after being brought off with some leg soreness on Sunday. 

Quick turnarounds having become routine for the side this season, however, Aloisi is confident that his side won’t be too adversely affected by the contracted preparation. Instead, he’s hoping that the three goals his side scored on Sunday – the most they have all season – will provide a foundation for the months ahead. 

“We mentioned at the start of the season that it will take us time to click, especially going forward,” said the Western boss. “Because we’ve got new players, some of them came in and a couple of them were getting used to each other. 

“We had to have that base and that base has been good. Defensively we’ve been strong, not only at the back but throughout the whole team. And we’ve been creating chances so [Sunday]was going to come. 

“We’ve been creating good, clear-cut chances. So we weren’t panicking, we knew that the goals would be there and we created a number of occasions on the weekend and thankfully we scored three and we’ll look to keep on improving.

“We’ll make sure that we check which players are ready to go, which players do back up well. We’ve got some fit players, we’ve got some players that we believe will have no issues and others that might have an issue. 

“We’ll probably make our final decision on Wednesday but at the moment we’re used to it. We’ll be better for it this time around.”

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Header Image Credit: Western United

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