19/04/2024

Steven Lustica believes his side can recover from a rough start to the season. (Images: Western United FC)

The defending champions Western United have had a rough start to their 2022/23 A-League Men campaign, having suffered back-to-back losses to Melbourne City and Sydney FC.

Currently without a point to their name, United will be eager to finally get off the mark in Round 3 when they face the in-form Macarthur FC at AAMI Park on Friday night.

Coming up against another tough opposition, United midfielder Steven Lustica has backed in his side to bounce back, saying that despite results not going their way, spirits are still high.

“One thing we have in this group is we’ve got a great culture, we’re really together, we’ve got a great bunch of boys and obviously we showed that last season and it’s no different this season as well,” Lustica told media on Tuesday.

“This is the time now to show we’re all together. Yes we’ve started the season with not the best [of] results, but as long as we stick together, we rectify the mistakes that we made and we continue to improve, which we will… I’m sure we’re heading in the right direction.”

With Macarthur yet to lose a game this season, and recently coming off an emphatic 2-0 win over Adelaide United, Lustica says they’ll be in for a challenging match-up, crediting how tough the competition is this season.

“We’ve got Macarthur on Friday night, we’ll analyse them, we’ll know their strengths and weaknesses, but [it’s] like any other game,” he said.

“Every game in the A-League [Men] is tough, you don’t get any easy games, you got to play every team and all the teams are going to give you challenges you’ve got to face.

“It’s going to be like any other game, we’re going to prepare like we do for any other game. It’s going to be another good test for us on Friday night, and one [game] we’re going to be eager [to win] and bounce back.”

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Commenting on the performances from the opening two games, Lustica says the group have not dropped their heads.

He says they’re finding some positives out of their recent 3-1 loss to Sydney FC, and is confident in their ability to respond.

“Obviously it’s been disappointing results the last two weeks for us, [the] last game especially against Sydney I thought we played really well in the first half,” he said.

“[We] went ahead 1-0 and then conceded a few goals towards the end of the half, second half wasn’t as good as the first half.

“But the boys are positive, we’ve got another game in five days. That’s the beauty of football, you can quickly turn it around.

“We’re all positive, we know we all have to improve and we’re going to have a good week at training and make sure we rectify it on Friday night.”

Lustica further commented that despite the side losing their opening two games, he believes the group has not lost it’s edge.

He believes the standards and intensity have not dropped since their championship win and there’s no signs of a championship hangover.

“The intensity has been there… since day one of pre-season. We’ve all come in with the intent to train hard and the intensity has been there,” he said.

“Whole of pre-season and even the last of these two games I know the results haven’t been there, but the intensity in training has been there. It’s always been of a high standard, and we maintain those high standards.

“We drive each other at training and the coaches drive us as well and we make sure we’ve maintained that. We’ve just got to rectify a few mistakes, make sure we stick to our structures, and I’m that we will and we’ll bounce back.”

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