ECU Joondalup: Into 2016
Report by Jonathan Cook
Infographics: Adrian Petrilli
First there were the big name signings and then a thumping win over Balcatta in their opening game of the QBE Night Series to whet the appetite. Now the target is a Top Four place.
Although ECU Joondalup’s remaining Night Series fixtures did not produce the blitz the early start might have suggested, coach Dale McCulloch is confident his side are better equipped to handle the challenge in 2016.
“We have to improve, pure and simple,” McCulloch said. “We aim high and we want teams to start taking notice of us. If we’re enjoying our football, results will come.
“We want to make the Top Four and that has to be an aim for us.”
McCulloch is delighted an end-of-season knockout competition has returned to the season calendar.
“If there is a runaway leader (in the league) it gives other teams something to play for,” he said.
But the coach is even more excited at the prospects for his own team that has been reinforced on and off the field. Former Perth Glory midfielder Steven McGarry is a great on-field acquisition but is also assisting with coaching duties along with David Tough.
Joondalup have also added a High Performance Manager in Mark Scanlan to further raise the bar of professionalism.
“We’ve got a lot more experience and my coaching staff is a lot stronger than in the past,” McCulloch said. “It’s a brand new start.”
McGarry’s midfield presence is not the only new Scottish influence with former Hearts striker Gordon Smith having joined the club. Former Swansea City U21 defender Joseph Jones has also been brought in from overseas, while Josh Booysen has joined from Subiaco and Jack Oldham, Ollie Annis and Henry Durr have moved from Perth Glory’s youth team.
Although, ECU Joondalup remain a side packed with young players and continue to play their part in the development of top quality players, McCulloch will look to older players to lead the 2016 charge.
“Our senior players have to stand up and do the job because we have a lot of quality,” McCulloch said. “The young players we’ve brought through the system over the last two years have to show they can stay in the first team.
“It’s a bit more cutthroat this year and we won’t tolerate bad performances as much as we probably have in the last couple of years. (We need) senior players to stand tall and our younger guys to show enthusiasm and bring a little bit of excitement to the game as well.”