One can imagine the first thing Tony Popovic did when the Hyundai A-League draw came out was circle the date of his homecoming to Western Sydney.
Just over two-thirds into the season and the time has finally come for Popovic’s Perth Glory to travel East to face the Wanderers, the club that Popovic essentially built single-handedly.
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Speaking ahead of the big fixture, Popovic said he wasn’t quite sure what reception he would receive from the fans who saw him win a Premiers Plate in their first season as well as the AFC Champions League in 2014.
“You don’t know with fans what the reaction will be but whatever it is I’m sure deep down they’ll respect the time we had together and how they’ll show that, that’ll be up to them,” Popovic laughed.
“It’d be a bit different if it was the old Parramatta Stadium, at Spotless I’m sure it will be a different feeling personally but also a special one.
“[I have] fantastic memories from my time there, I still have a lot of friends there and I’m sure I’ll see them before and after, during the game it’s business as usual. We want the three points.”
Since arriving in mid-2018 Popovic has revolutionised the Glory and with seven rounds to play they sit proudly atop the Hyundai A-League ladder.
Dominance however carries with it a risk of falling and with one hand seemingly on the Premiers Plate, one could forgive Perth for dropping their intensity a notch.
Popovic insisted that simply would not be the case.
“I don’t think focus is an issue for this group, it hasn’t been thus far so I don’t envision that becoming one and not something that we have to be concerned about,” he said.
“I think we have to be more concerned about our performance and make sure that we deliver another good one and if we do that we get an opportunity to keep the great run going.
“We can’t deny we’re on top, we’re on top for a reason. We deserve to be there and if the conversation is about us being on top that’s a good thing.
“It’s a good place to be, obviously we want to stay there and if we deserve to be there when Round 27 is completed we’ll be the Premiers.”