Hard work required
MICHAEL Thwaite believes the only antidote to Gold Coast United's current league position is hard work on the training paddock.
The club captain said yesterday that he sat with the rest of the squad earlier in the week and shared a few of his personal experiences in an effort to help inspire his teammates.
His Gold Coast outfit faces Melbourne Heart tonight at Skilled Park (7pm QLD) knowing a win will do wonders for its confidence, but he says everyone must be focused on their performance rather than the result.
"It's frustrating, but the results will come if we focus on how we want to play and not think about winning, losing or drawing, only about performance," Thwaite said.
"During the week I sat the team down and talked them through a few of my own personal experiences. Whether it's been playing in the Youth League, sitting on the bench, in the stands, being injured or having to do rehab, I just gave them a bit of an insight into how I conquered those situations and essentially it all comes down to hard work.
"That's how I've conquered any adversity in my career - here at Gold Coast, at Melbourne Victory and in Romania. It's all about working hard. It's the simplest answer to most problems in football.
"I've been bashing my head against the wall about our league position. We've set higher standards at this club in terms of our performance, so of course it plays on our minds. We've rarely been out of the top four since we entered the league.
"But we have a new squad, as everyone knows, and we're learning more about each other every week. We've worked hard on our structure all week to try to stop the goals we've been leaking and for me that's what we have to keep doing - working harder and harder," he said.
If Gold Coast is to take the points from its visitors it will have to do it without leading scorer James Brown and young defender Dylan Macallister, who are both on international duty with the Olyroos. Also in doubt is another of United's impressive youngsters, winger Ben Halloran, who suffered a knee injury at training during the week.
Coach Miron Bleiberg remained hopeful yesterday that Halloran would continue to improve over the next 24 hours and was giving the 19-year-old every chance to prove his fitness, but rated him as only a 50% chance.
"We have two boys who are with the Olyroos and Ben Halloran is 50/50 at the moment with a knock he picked up in training, but we are still hoping about him and we will see how he is on the day," Bleiberg said.
"If he can't play then we have to make at least three changes to last week's team. We have options despite the current situation and it will give opportunities to others, as it always does. For example, Mitch Bevan did very well when he came on against Adelaide and he made a difference. If I decide to use him again he will be ready and up for the challenge.
"We are feeling good. We have to try hard to turn things around and not rely on a change of fortune. Hard work is the key and the whole league is tight, so a few points can make a big difference.
"I prefer to play against teams who have just won, rather than teams who have just lost. A wounded animal is a dangerous one and hopefully Melbourne Heart will be drunk with happiness."