8 March 2013 09:50
Adelaide United’s Jon McKain insists the Reds must believe in coach Michael Valkanis’ game plan if they are to compete for an A-League title.
The Reds have dropped off the pace in the second half of the season, which has seen them win just twice from nine games in 2013.
The sudden departure of former coach John Kosmina in late January did not help the club either, and they were forced to thrust assistant and youth team manager Valkanis into the head coaching role until the end of the campaign.
Adelaide’s squad has so far failed to adapt to their new boss and his change in tactics, prompting several disjointed performances and the team to slide down to fourth having picked up just four points in five games since Valkanis’ caretaker role began.
Last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Brisbane Roar was a glaring example of United’s recent struggles on the park.
McKain said that while the coaching transition has been difficult during the middle of the season, it was crucial the Reds rallied around Valkanis as they plan a grand final assault, after dropping out of contention for a second minor premiership.
“It’s down to buying into what the coach wants to do and I know for a fact the boys support what Mickey wants to do,” McKain said.
“We are all buying into it. It just hasn’t showed just yet … we know that’s unacceptable.
“It might get a bit confusing with what he wants to try and implement, but we are all professional players and we work on it each week.
“We’ve worked hard again this week and we as players know we have to take responsibility to do our job on the field and I’m sure you will see a different team this week (against Melbourne Heart).
“We are convinced if we keep at it, it’s going to turn. We’ve trained well and the intensity has definitely picked up the last few weeks because we feel like we haven’t performed like we should.
“Leading into these finals you want to get on a bit of run because you still have the chance to make the grand final … that’s the beauty of a grand-final format.”
After yet another spirited training session on Friday that produced a series of rough challenges between players, McKain rejected any suggestion the squad was not on the same page after a frustrating couple of months.
“Everyone is on board … if players don’t want to come along with that, no problem they can be left behind,” he said.