John Aloisi admits ‘everyone is excited’ for new season at Western United

John Aloisi Western United

Western United Isuzu UTE A-League Head Coach John Aloisi is boisterous about his team’s development through the opening two months of pre-season training.

With plenty of work being laid down on the training pitch alongside friendly games and an Australia Cup tie, the boss is beginning to see his new-look squad take shape.

“It’s been really good,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of new faces. It always takes time for everyone to get to know each other and gel, but it also gives you that fresh feel – the dynamic is different and everyone is really excited about the season.

“We’ve played a few friendly games and we’ve played one Australia Cup game, the performances have been pretty good, and we know there’s always room to improve. So far, everyone’s been excited about what’s happening this season.”

Aloisi has brought eight new faces into the squad for the new season, including start midfielder Angus Thurgate and dazzling Brazilian Daniel Penha.

With a number of fresh introductions settling into the squad, Aloisi spoke glowingly about his new signings and about Ramy Najjarine and Michael Ruhs who have continued their development after joining the Club in February.

Ramy Najjarine will hope to become a key figure for Western United this season

“Ramy Najjarine hardly played for us last season and we know the quality he has. He’s a very intelligent footballe rnad he’ll give us something different to what we have,” he said.

“Michael Ruhs didn’t play a lot of football last year, his pre-season so far has been really good. He got on the scoresheet against Edgeworth, he’s always a constant threat.

“Also Riku Danzaki, he’s showing that he’s got that eye for goal, always getting into good areas. We’ve still got Daniel Penha to come in as well, so it’s exciting. We’ve got so many exciting attacking players, we believe we can hurt a lot of teams with that.

Riku Danzaki is one of a number of exciting additions to Western United’s frontline

“Then we have Angus Thurgate, he’s still very young even though he’s been around for a few years. He’s getting to know the way we play and he’s looking good. James Donachie has been around and he’s fitting in nicely in that back four.

“And then the keepers – they’re fighting for a No.1 spot, Heward-Belle and Sutton, and they’ve both been impressive in pre-season so far.”

The new signings have been complemented by a host of Western United Academy youngsters who have also been given opportunities to learn with the first team.

After spending some time in the Academy environment over the off-season, Aloisi said it has been important for the young players to get a feel for the senior team and understand the pathway forward.

“It’s really important for them to realise that we’re looking at them, we’re always keeping an eye on them,” he said.

“In the off-season I spent a couple of weeks with Diogo (Ferreira) and Dura (Andrew Durante) out at NPL training to see what level they’re at and then bring in a whole lot of players in pre-season for training and friendly games.

Jake Najdovski was handed his senior debut having progressed through the Western United Academy last year

“Max Bisetto and Jake Najdovski, who is already a scholarship player – they got the opportunity to play in the Australia Cup, then there’s other players like Grimaldi, Luke Vickery, Oli Lavale who are training on a regular basis with us.

“It’s good for them and it’s important that they know that we’re looking. It’s up to them now whether they want to improve, and also up to us coaches to help them improve.”

Looking ahead to United’s Australia Cup Round of 16 tie against Gold Coast Knights on Wednesday night, Aloisi reflected on a positive performance from his team in the previous round.

Goals to Noah Botic, Ruhs and a brace from Lachie Wales helped the Green and Black to a 4-0 win over Edgeworth Eagles, and Aloisi was pleased with what he say.

“The positive was that our attitude was really good. We still tried to play that attacking brand, we moved the ball quickly going forward, created a lot of chances and scored four goals,” he said.

“All in all it was a good performance in a difficult situation. It’s the first time the team is away, they don’t play in that environment very often at NPL level, but the performance was pretty good.”

Last year’s Australia Cup campaign ended prematurely for United, and Aloisi has noticed a desire in training to right some wrongs and ensure a deeper run into the competition this time around.

“I’ve seen the hunger in the group from the start, from day one in every training session,” he said.

“There’s that hunger to go deep into the tournament, hopefully. We’re still building our fitness levels so we’ll go into certain games a little fatigued, still working on different things, but we believe we can still get the results we need to go deep in the tournament.”

United has never reached the quarter-finals across two previous Australia Cup campaigns, so the squad will be hoping to break new ground and continue in its bid for silverware.