Adrian Leijer says Melbourne Victory’s new-look defence is taking longer to gel than he would like, but has promised fans a major defensive improvement in the second half of the season.
Adrian Leijer says Melbourne Victory’s new-look defence is taking longer to gel than he would like, but has promised fans a major defensive improvement from the reigning Hyundai A-League champions in the second half of the season.
Melbourne’s success in becoming the first club to win two A-League titles has been built largely on its rock-solid defence over the years, but this season the club has conceded the equal third-most goals in the competition – 16 in 11 games.
Despite that, Melbourne is still sitting in third spot heading into Saturday night’s clash against arch-rivals Adelaide at Etihad Stadium and only two points adrift of top spot.
The Victory has kept just two clean sheets all season in what has been a year of change down back with Leijer – a key figure in the 2006-07 championship winning season – returning to the club after two years in England while New Zealand international Glen Moss has replaced Michael Theoklitos in goal and skipper Kevin Muscat missed five games due to a hamstring injury early in the season.
“It has been a little frustrating and you could say we have been a bit inconsistent and that is something I am trying to focus on and get the consistency back again,” Leijer said of the Victory defence this season.
“As a defender your game is based on consistency week in, week out and that is something we are working on.”
“It’s about spending time on the training track together and the biggest thing is just focusing and being on your game 100 percent for 90 minutes and maybe that is where we have slipped up a couple of times.”
But Leijer takes heart from the fact that despite Melbourne leaking more goals than usual this season, the club is still well-placed to challenge for yet another Championship.
“The good thing is although we have been a bit inconsistent, look at where we are on the table,” he said.
“We have still been picking up points and it shows we are only going to get better and when we are hitting our straps we will definitely be up there.”
Leijer said the Victory would only improve as the team’s defence improves in the second half of the season.
“We are still scoring lots of goals and it’s a positive going forward in that if we don’t concede as many goals we will be a lot stronger,” he said.
“It takes time (for a defence to gel) and to get that back three or back five as solid as possible, but a team defends as a unit so there are a lot of other areas we all have to work on and look at as well.”