Perth Glory defender Scott Neville knew exactly what to expect from Tony Popovic, as he’d already spent two years under him at the Wanderers.

“The day I found that he’d be our coach, I did a few extra runs and was getting prepared for pre-season because he runs a tight ship and makes sure everyone is pushing in the right direction,” Neville told Evenings on FNR. 

“He’s created a ridiculously good culture.

“He gives you all the framework and everything to be successful, and he helps you improve not only as a footballer, but as a person as well.”

The club’s success this season, he says, emanates from the top down.

“What the club has done with Tony Sage putting in the money and the backing of Tony Pignata, and Tony Popovic is amazing.

“It started off so well and hopefully it continues. Glory is a powerhouse, they were huge in the NSL and it’s probably been a sleeping giant in the A-League.”

Life is pretty good at the moment, not only in picturesque Perth, but at the top of the table which is where the Glory find themselves. They’ve created a solid nine-point buffer as they head into a tough three weeks on the road.

The winning formula, says Neville, is in the attention to detail and mental preparation. No longer are the players using excuses to justify poor performances.

“I think we’ve adapted exceptionally this year, we haven’t lost a game away from home, and maybe that’s been a bit of an excuse in the past to say ‘oh we lost because of the travel’.

“It’s not an issue to be honest under this regime, no one even talks about the travel or away game, we just focus and turn it into a positive.

“It’s been a bit of a mental barrier that I think we’ve needed to crack.”

Neville came on as a substitute against Brisbane Roar and within seconds provided a beautifully weighted pass to set up a goal for Andy Keogh – a small personal victory in what’s been a injury-struck season.

“I would have loved to played a lot more minutes but when you get injured in pre-season and then in round 3 you have to bide your time.

“The four or five games I’ve started, and every game I’ve came on, I’ve tried to make an impact and just be a reliable player.

“Everyone’s all pushing in the same direction.”

This weekend Perth Glory are up against Neville’s former club, the Western Sydney Wanderers, on a high after their 3-1 away win against Adelaide United. If Popovic’s reputation is anything to go by, the Glory won’t be taking them lightly.

Louise Taffa