Inglewood United: Into 2016
Report by Jonathan Cook
Infographics: Adrian Petrilli
Inglewood United could have done without the motivation of a QBE Night Series collapse but they got one anyway.
With a place in the semi-finals within reach, they succumbed to a 5-2 loss against Perth Glory to exit the competition earlier than anticipated - and by the narrowest of margins.
Bitter disappointment at the time has now transformed into a collective desire to learn from a particularly galling mistake and ensure it doesn’t creep into the 2016 season.
Inglewood coach Taki Nicolaidis, who less than six months earlier was in the Perth SC hot seat, was less than impressed with that Glory mauling. Thankfully for the man who replaced Michael Garcia just six weeks into their pre-season, his disappointment was shared by the players.
“I was pleased with the performances in our first four games but bitterly disappointed with one game to go and on top of the group and needing a point that we didn’t get there,” Nicolaidis said.
“The feedback and response from the players was all positive and we can’t let one pour performance cloud where we’re at. We’ve learned how critical it is that we show up and perform every week and not take things for granted. We probably took it for granted that we’d get through to the next stage.”
Nicolaidis had arrived at Inglewood as assistant to Garcia and was heavily involved in the recruitment process before the top post was vacated.
A number of players had already exited and others had arrived when Garcia decided not to continue. Inglewood now have a squad built on a solid defence and with goals to be found through the services of Brian Woodall, Kenny Keogh and Ashley Rosindale, who had followed Nicolaidis across from Perth.
Goals, of course, will win games but the coach is adamant Inglewood’s defensive foundations, in a strengthened squad, will provide the springboard to a successful season.
“For me, (goalkeeper) Alex Dunn, David Cyrus, Adam Tong and Scott Blackmore in our backline are probably more important than the scoring goals side of it,” Nicolaidis said.
“With the players who’ve come in and some very good players that were already here there’s competition for places now. If you don’t have competition there players do become complacent.”
Although Nicolaidis is cautious about his season aims, improving on last season’s seventh-placed finish is clearly at the heart of the plan.
“We want to improve in all facets,” he said. “From a coaching point of view, I’ve still got a burning desire to be successful and I think we’ve got a good core group that will improve on last year.
“We want to be in the mix at the end of the season.”