Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson believes that playmaker Liam Miller could be the man to lead the club to its first A-league championship.
Miller has hit the ground running in his second season in the A-League and played a key role in Perth's solid start to the season.
Perth, which faces Sydney FC at ANZ Stadium on Sunday, Adelaide United and Newcastle Jets lead the competition with six points from three matches.
”Liam is doing a fantastic job for us,” Ferguson said.
”He is the type of player who can do unexpected things.
”He certainly can take us to another level because he is exciting, he can set up goals and last season he scored a few too.
”He is good enough to take us to the title after we got so close last season.”
Ferguson commended Miller for the way he has adapted to life in the A-League.
”It's never easy for players who come in from overseas because this is a very tough league to come to and there are the tough conditions as well,” he said.
”Sometimes foreign players do not fully realise what's ahead of them but Liam settled in really well.
”He did very well for us last season and he's carried on this season.”
The eighth A-League has attracted many foreign players, among them World Cup stars Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono.
Most of the clubs have sought to raise their profile and boost their playing ranks yet Perth, which is bankrolled by mining magnate Tony Sage, was relatively quiet in the off-season.
Ferguson said this should not be seen as a negative sign because his club has recruited well.
”We are delighted with our squad,” Ferguson said.
”I am very happy with the players we have brought in and the ones we have kept.
”We have a marquee player in Shane Smeltz, who has been top goal scorer for his last three clubs.
”He's a proven top class scorer in the A-League.”
Ferguson said he was glad that his players were handling the greater expectations placed on the team, after reaching last season's grand final when it lost 2-1 to Brisbane Roar after a controversial penalty in the dying moments of the game.
”We have six points from a possible nine and we only lost to the Mariners after being punished for a mistake,” he said.
”When you compare where we were 18 months ago with where we are now, I think we are in a very good shape so I am delighted with the way things are going.
”There is always going to be massive expectation from our fans.
”We always knew we would have to deal with the pressure on our club but, as I said, I'm happy with what we've done so far even though we've played only three matches.”
Ferguson is fully aware of the Del Piero factor that will dominate Sunday's match at ANZ.
Sydney's marquee signing has already won over many fans with his polished play, particularly his ability to hit free kicks on target.
Ferguson said his players needed to be aware of Del Piero's threat when making tackles on the edge of the penalty area.
”We definitely have to be mindful of Del Piero's ability at free kicks,” he said.
”With a man of that class and stature we have to make sure we don't give away silly free kicks around the box because he can so easily put the ball away in the top corner.
”I say this to the boys every week but they still keep doing it.”
Ferguson also said that Del Piero was not the only challenge his boys will have to contend with on Sunday and that he did not believe too much attention would be cast on the former Italy international at the risk of giving other Sydney players more space and time.
”You look at the team and there are quality guys like Brett Emerton and Ali Abbas who can cause you damage,” he said.
”Sydney are not just one player, they are a quality side and we have to win the individual battles at the weekend.”
The A-League will make its LIVE free-to-air TV debut next season with the blockbuster clash between Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets on Friday 11 October on SBS 2.