Experienced campaigner Matt Sim is backing Manly United’s defensive record to help steer his side to glory in 2023.
But he says to finish first past the post in 2023, he and his Manly teammates will need to be more clinical in front of goal.
“I think the focus for us is definitely scoring more goals,” he said.
“I think we had a lot of close games last year where we could have got a few more goals, and there were games we should have won and didn’t.
“Even with the best defensive record in the league, there’s was one or two games that we got blown out of the water a bit as well.”
In the end, Sim and Co. missed out on the Premiership on goal difference, just one goal behind Sydney Olympic.
In 2022, the result meant that Manly still had a chance at glory via the finals system, but in 2023, it would make for an agonised end to a marathon 30-game campaign.
With the season kicking off this Friday, Sim said the club’s new look under new coach Patrick Zwaanswijk was an exciting one but admitted there was no time for a slow start.
“It’s been a bit rushed with the short pre-season, but we knew this was coming so we did a solid pre-Christmas block of work to get in what we needed, knowing it was a short turnaround once we’re back,” he said.
“It’s a different set-up now. Usually, you can be midtable at the halfway point of the season and have some hope of making finals and then making something happen there.
“But this year, it will come down to how the strong teams start and who can carry it on the best, as it’s a long season.
“Our club has looked to bring in some young players, so there is that focus on the younger guys, which has been good to build out the squad. With the new coach, there are some fresh ideas and we’ve evolved as a unit, so we will be trying to be successful once again in 2023 and be right up there once again.”
Manly United kicks off its campaign with a tough trip to reigning Premiers Blacktown City FC in what will be the 2022 NPL NSW Mens Grand Final replay as well as it being the ‘Match of the Round’.
Kick-off is at 5 pm this Sunday at the Blacktown City Sports Centre.