After conceding 17 goals in pre-season, assistant coach Mark Milligan quitting the club and Adam Federici retiring, Ante Milicic could have been forgiven for coming into this A-League Men season with a sense of trepidation.
Yet Milicic’s Macarthur have maintained their undefeated start to their campaign after stubbornly repelling Sydney FC at Kogarah Oval on Saturday to claim a 1-0 win, courtesy of a first-half Lachie Rose goal.
It follows their 1-1 opening round draw against Wellington Phoenix and has left Milicic convinced his side has turned a corner.
“We conceded 17 goals in four A-League friendly games,” he said.
“And I know friendly games are one thing and the A-League’s another thing, but in the end we addressed it quickly.
“We made some decisions in the last few months (and) it’s been a difficult time for us at the football club.
“But at no stage did we lose confidence or belief in our ability. A lot of clubs go through a bit of turbulence and we’re no different.
“We’re heading in the right direction, and we believe we’ve still got a lot more to offer.”
Key to their fortunes on Saturday was the form of goalkeeper Filip Kurto, who kept the likes of Adam Le Fondre and Patrick Wood at bay as the Sky Blues went in search of a late equaliser.
Kurto, who made his club debut against the Phoenix last week, has had a bumpy start to life as a Bulls player and often handed goal kick duties over to his centre backs.
“His last game was in March and he was with us for two sessions last week,” Milicic said. “He had food poisoning before the Wellington game.
“When you miss that much football, I don’t like my players kicking long distances.
“Is there any science behind it? I’m not sure, but that’s just me, I don’t want to take any risks in that department.
“He’s a good goalkeeper and we had to move quickly. He’s very determined to do well.
“Last week he’s in a hotel, he’s sick, he’s got his wife and his son here and there’s a lot going on but on game day he’s focused.”