The old habit Popovic transformed to ignite Perth Glory's Hyundai A-League surge
There were times when Perth Glory’s Hyundai A-League travel sickness appeared close to incurable.
That was before Tony Popovic ripped the club's long-standing ball and chain from the their ankles.
The Western Australians' traditional fragility on the road has been transformed under the 45-year-old taskmaster, so much so that Glory's away form has been the hallmark of this season's Premiership assault.
Perth are unbeaten on their travels this campaign, and the never-say-die attitude to make such a formidable run possible was evident from the early days of Popovic's tenure.
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“I think in pre-season there were real signs of that [winning mentality],” Popovic said.
“We saw it in the early rounds, we saw it against Melbourne Victory when we were away from home and the home team came back with 10 odd minutes to go to make it 2-2.
“We were really resilient and we found a way to win the game.
“It’s been there for a while, it just keeps building.
“Now we go away from home and it's a very quiet change room when you get a point.
“And you notice the opposition is celebrating a draw which shows you that we’re a big scalp.
“To continue that you need to keep performing and if we keep performing, we feel we'll get the results and we’ll remain a big scalp for teams.”
Perth have gained just 23 points on the road in their previous two seasons combined, but this campaign they have already amassed 21.
And although unflappable on their travels, Sunday’s challenge of Melbourne City looms as a potential banana skin for the ladder leaders.
But the clinical Popovic will be intent on keeping his charges focused on retaining their advantage at the Hyundai A-League summit.
It is this ruthless formula applied in both their own backyard and on their travels which has turned Perth from inconsistent underachievers to Premiers-elect.
“Every match that we’ve played away we’ve really had good periods of control in the games,” Popovic said.
“You need to defend well away from home. We’ve done that, and we did that well on the weekend.
“It doesn’t guarantee you a result but it guarantees you a chance.
“We’ve done that very well. We need that to continue. We don’t go into this game with any fear, we go into it with the excitement of any challenge away from home.”