Macarthur coach Ante Milicic says hype surrounding the Bulls’ A-League title hopes after their first-up win over Western Sydney Wanderers is nothing more than “coffee shop talk”.
The Bulls’ 1-0 defeat of the Wanderers in Wednesday night’s derby has many declaring Macarthur can contend for the championship in their first season, just as Western Sydney did in their inaugural 2012-13 campaign when they topped the table and lost the grand final to Central Coast.
A commanding squad on paper, the Bulls were able to click on the pitch at the first time of asking despite several players not featuring in a competitive game for more than six months as they left Bankwest Stadium with the first three points in their history.
But Milicic refused to embrace suggestions that his side would challenge for the A-League title straight away.
“Nah, I’m actually not having any of it because I don’t know what that’s based on,” Milicic said.
“It’s just opinion, it’s coffee shop talk. There are so many games to go. Our players and staff have their own internal expectations.
“Yes, we’ll enjoy it, but let’s not get carried away. The world has shown that there can be a lot of twists and turns, and in Australian football, you always get them as well.”
While former Socceroo skipper Mark Milligan and experienced goalkeeper Adam Federici shone for the Bulls, one of the heartwarming stories to emerge from the triumph was that of winger Lachie Rose, who was hugely impressive on his A-League debut after being plucked from relative obscurity.
“Rose is a different one because he didn’t even come from NPL1. He came from NPL2, but we saw something in him. He came in and trained well and did well in the friendly games,” Milicic said.
“He’s just a kid that’s good at football, good at Aussie rules, good at surfing … he’s just a natural athlete, and it was a big night for him, and I’m so pleased that he put in a big performance.”
New Wanderers coach Carl Robinson criticised the free-kick call that led to Macarthur’s first ever A-League goal, which was credited to Milligan after Spanish substitute Benat Etxebbaria’s free kick deflected off the Bulls skipper and past unlucky Western Sydney goalkeeper Daniel Margush.
But Robinson welcomed the competitiveness of the derby and the A-League’s newest rivalry.
“It’s great. You want rivalries, you want storylines, you want drama, you want controversy,” the Wanderers mentor said.
“They’ll be delighted, we’re disappointed because it’s on our turf. Inside, I’m quietly fuming, but you have to conduct yourself with dignity when you lose.”