Mitch Duke has revealed the crucial clear-the-air team meeting that has sparked Western Sydney Wanderers’ impressive Hyundai A-League form reversal.
Duke’s first appearance for the Wanderers came in Round 17 with Markus Babbel’s troops on the end of a 5-1 mauling at the hands of Newcastle Jets.
After a disastrous festive period, the Jets result made it 10 games in a row without a win and proved a real line-in-the-sand moment for the club.
“We all sat together – the coach and the team - and we all just rattled off ideas and key words that we should focus on and strive for every time we go out for a game,” Duke revealed to Fox Sports after Friday’s 4-1 win over Brisbane Roar.
“And the boys are really following through with hard work, discipline and individual jobs.
“We wrote that down on the list and we’ve set little targets as well with a certain amount of clean sheets and a certain amount of goals we want to score.
“Short term goals and just going at it game-by-game and so far its worked.”
In fact, the turnaround has been remarkable.
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In the four games since the team’s heart-to-heart chat, the Wanderers have won three matches as well as picking up a draw with league-leaders Perth Glory.
“There’s just a lot more belief in the squad,” Duke admitted.
“The first game I was involved in was a 5-1 loss. But since then we re-set goals to finish off the season and everyone has just followed through with it.
“The boys have such confidence and belief in themselves and now it’s just coming through.”
Duke has certainly played his part in the Wanderers’ resurgence.
The 28-year-old – who started his career in the Hyundai A-League with Central Coast Mariners - only signed for the club in January having spent the last four years playing in Japan.
While he had a reputation as an all-action attacking player in his first stint in the Hyundai A-League, there’s no doubt Duke had added more finesse to his game while in the J-League.
“To survive four years in Japan you have to adjust. Technically they are unbelievable over there,” Duke said.
“In the first six weeks I went there I was chasing shadows so I had to learn quick or I wasn’t going to last.
“It’s helped my game massively and given me a huge amount of confidence. I want to show what I can do now back here in the A-League.”
The Wanderers will look to increase their unbeaten run to five matches when they take on Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.