Ange Posteclogou’s transition back into club management has been a slow burn, but Yokohama F. Marinos’ Australia defender Milos Degenek believes the mantras are beginning to bear fruit.
They certainly are for Degenek - who heads into camp in Turkey on Wednesday ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup having scored in successive victories in the league and cup to take his tally for the season to three.
Yokohama, Postecoglou’s new home after his shock Socceroos resignation, lie 13th in Japan’s J1 League after accumulating 17 points from 15 games.
They are also the joint leading scorers with 24 goals.
Interestingly Postecoglou has abandoned the three-at-the-back system which sparked so much debate during the back end of his tenure.
He’s switched to a more traditional format of four, with Degenek making 15 appearances in all competitions so far this season.
“It always takes time to get used to the style whenever a new coach comes in but we’re beginning to pick things up now and I think we’re playing a brand of football more entertaining and adventurous than any team in the league,” said Degenek, who arrived in Japan via Stuttgart and 1860 Munich at the beginning of last season.
“I think the team have taken to Ange and enjoy what we’re doing and the way we’re playing.
He’s committed to producing football that’s good to watch and we’ve got the technical players to execute what he wants.
“If not for some little moments of bad luck, and maybe losing concentration at times, we’d be a lot higher up the table. But we’re getting there and we’re moving in the right direction.”
So, too, is Degenek, 24, who is jousting with Matt Jurman and Trent Sainsbury for a starting Socceroos spot in Russia, where heavyweights France will be their first opponents in Kazan on June 16.
Then come Denmark and Peru, both significant obstacles to progression in the tournament for Bert van Marwijk’s men.
Degenek can also play at right back but feels most comfortable as a stopper, the position he has filled most regularly in his club and 17-cap international career.
“Look, from a personal point of view I’ve enjoyed the season so far and I am full of confidence right now and the belief that we can do something at the World Cup,” he said.
“The goals are a bonus for me - they’ve all come from set pieces - but it’s performances that count most.
“People might look at our group in Russia and see us as a long-shot to get into the knockout stage.
“But we don’t mind that. I’m sure if any of our opponents make the mistake of under-estimating us, we’ll take advantage.
“But, in football these days, teams all know there are no easy results and I’m sure that will be the case in our group.
“One of the big things we’ve got going for is us our never-say-die attitude.
“We never lie down for anybody and we battle till the last minute of every game. I think that approach will work to our favour in Russia.
“I see no reason why we can’t qualify from the group. I know the boss and the rest of the boys feel the same way.”