Western United winger Dylan Pierias believes the club are looking to be ambitious in the upcoming A-League Men’s season, coming in with high expectations.
Following a disappointing season last year in which the club missed the finals and head coach Mark Rudan was sacked, the club are looking assert themselves on the league in 2021-22 under new coach John Aloisi.
Pierias says the squad have set the bar high for themselves, believing he and his teammates are not content on just making an improvement of last year.
“Our expectations is to win, to try and win that title,” Pierias told media on Tuesday.
“I think we’re a club that’s ambitious and we’re not here to just try and finish sixth or [be] better than last year, we want to be the best. We have a few fresh faces and good quality players throughout the squad that are definitely going to help us achieve that.”
With the A-League Men season opener this weekend, United will be taking on local rivals Melbourne Victory at GMHBA Stadium, with Pierias saying he’s looking forward to playing a big game in their first hit out of the season.
“Of course it’s great, Melbourne Victory look good this year and any derby game is always exciting, ever since I was little being a fan of the A-League I dreamt of playing in the derby games,” he said.
“It’s a good rivalry that you always want to be a part of.”
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With several on-field changes during the offseason with a new manager and new players coming to the club, Pierias says the long preseason has helped the group gel as they now eagerly await the first game of the season.
“Obviously with the new boss and a lot of fresh new faces entered the club the longer preseason as helped us, we’re ready to go,” he said.
“Everyone understands the system we want to play and I think all the boys are just really excited.”
A major change to United under Aloisi has been the defensive structure, with the coach opting to play a back four, reverting from a back five under Rudan’s era.
Having played as a full-back at parts of last year, Pierias has no issues with the formation having grown up for the majority of his young career playing in systems with four defenders.
“Some might say yes [it’s a big change], but I think it’s fine because you grow up the majority [of the time] playing four at the back,” he said.
“So a lot of the boys have grown up in other systems but there’s four at the back so it’s pretty common, so not that hard of a transition.”
Having been trialled in an array of positions last season under Rudan, the 21-year-old has been used as a winger, full-back and even up front as a striker.
Pierias says he’ll likely be used on the wing in the upcoming season, though his new coach is aware of his flexibility. He’s happy to play whether Aloisi sees fit.
“I’m probably more of a winger, look like i’ll be playing there more often but I think he [Aloisi] knows that I can play striker or right back,” Pierias said.
“Wherever he puts me I’m happy to play and try and do the best I can.”Embed from Getty Images
Bolstering the squad from last year, United have welcomed several new players, with Aleksandar Prijovic and Dylan Wenzel-Halls adding to the club’s attacking depth.
Pierias is embracing the challenge of competing for a spot, with no assurance of being a regular starter this season for United.
“That’s the sign of a good squad and good depth, that there’s a lot of competition for places,” he said.
“So it’s good for me to challenge myself and push myself harder everyday to get that first spot in the [starting] eleven, so I think it’s a good thing.”
Pierias also noted his personal expectations for the upcoming season. While he hopes of landing an overseas move come the end of the season, he’s purely focused on being an important contributor for the side.
“Hopefully [I can get an overseas move], that’s the goal but anything can happen, I’m just going to focus on my first game and just let other games come,” he said.
“I’m just going to do what I did always, try my best, try my hardest, and try and do my best for the team and try and get results.”
Noting his breakout season in the 2020-21 campaign and his time with Olympic squad in Tokyo earlier in the year, Pierias says he’s looking to kick on in the upcoming season.
“Coming off last season I was doing well and obviously got picked for the Olympics which gave me good confidence,” he said.
“That [playing at the Olympics] was a crazy experience that I will take [with me] for the rest of my life, made me a bit more mature and I think I’m going to take that confidence into the new season.”
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