Angry Perth Glory boss Ian Ferguson has hit back at his team's "physical" tag going into the A-League blockbuster against Sydney FC at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
“The stats show that we are not the dirtiest team in the league,” he said. “There are four teams above us in that respect and I’m sick of hearing the same crap every year.”
But the coach also showed a his dry sense of humour when he was asked how Perth Glory would stop Sydney FC superstar Alessandro Del Piero at ANZ Stadium.
“We’ll kick him off the park,” was Ferguson’s tongue-in-cheek response before he praised the Italian’s brilliance.
“To have a player of that calibre on the park is fantastic. It must be a buzz to go and play against a guy of that stature.
“For our players to go and show what they’ve got, to see if they can go to the next level, that’s surely a challenge for them.”
In terms of Glory’s real plans to stymie the former Azzurri legend, Ferguson said: “He’s obviously a player that will need close attention. You can’t give a player like Del Piero space and time on the ball because he’ll crucify you.
“The plan is to go out there and make sure we don’t give him that room.”
He insisted that Glory’s focus this week has been placed firmly upon fine-tuning its own game-plan rather than countering that of its opponent.
“It’s a case of what we can do, how we can cause problems, can we stay where we are, can we do better, can we go higher?” he said.
“And that’s what we want to do, we’ve got to be positive. We have three or four players that I could easily list off who will cause problems for them and that’s great to see.
“Including our two pre-season friendlies against Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory, we’ve now played five games and done really well in every one of them.
“Even against Central Coast, it wasn’t the prettiest of football, but there was a gameplan and it was two high-tempo teams cancelling each other out.
“We really should have got a point out of it, but that’s football. I’m reasonably happy with where we’re at and I’m very confident in the boys and about the challenge ahead."
Marquee man Alessandro Del Piero will spearhead the A-League All Stars after being voted into the side to face EPL champion Manchester United next month.