MELBOURNE Knights coach Ian Dobson is calling on help from the enemy.
Dobson wants Morwell Falcons and South Melbourne supporters to throw their weight behind the Knights as the only Victorian team in the Ericcson Cup play-offs.
Although the Knights need just one point from two remaining games to consolidate a position in the top six, Dobson is aiming for a top two finish.
He said the Knights should defeat the unpredictable Canberra Cosmos at Melbourne Croatian Sports Centre, Sunshine, this afrenoon and Wollongong next week.
“I expect us to get maximum of six points out of those two games,” Dobson said yesterday.
“I just hope the Victorian public looks at us and really gets behind us now whether it’s South Melbourne or Morwell Falcons supporters, they must now get behind the Melbourne Knights to give us every bit of support for these finals. ”
After losing their first league encounter against Canberra 3-1, the Knights drew the second match 3-3.
“Looking at the videos early on in the season when they beat us, we got caught by two set pieces,” Dobson said.
“They have a bit of height there and it has got to be monitored.
“They are a team that never gives up and we have to combat their work rate with our work rate. ”
Since Dobson took over from Mirko Basic half-way through the season, the Knights have dropped just three of their 15 matches.
But the most devastating of these losses came last week in the form of a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Adelaide City.
“If we can play with 11 men, not 10 men as we had last week, I believe we can beat Adelaide City (in the play-offs),” Dobson said.
“If we had not lost Danny Tiatto after 18 minutes (he was sent off for allegedly kicking an opponent) I think the way we were playing last Sunday, we would have beaten them. ”
Dobson said Tiatto would be disciplined by the club.
“Danny plays with passion, and anyone who plays with passion is great for the game, but you have got to play with passion in the right direction. ”
Tiatto will miss today’s game and Damian Vojtek will take his place in mid-field.
Knights’ goalscorer John Markovski has resumed training after injury, but is not expected to be fit until the finals.
Dobson, 38, said the Ericsson Cup was an even competition with only six points separating the top six teams.
“We were in sixth position when I took over – but we are fifth now – and were a long, long way out of being in the top two,” Dobson said.
“If we can win these games then we can still finish in a top two position, which gives us the double chance for the finals. ”
Dobson was a professional with English team Hull City and left the UK to take charge of State League Test club Croydon City.
He was captain of Preston for five years, and played with the Knights. He coached Victoria, Croydon City and Altona Gate, which won the Premier League title during his reign.
Dobson praised the quality of the Knights’ players – especially youngsters Tom Pondeljak, Dragi Nastevski and Joe Sumunic.
He said the trio had a fine blend of talent and commitment.
Dobson said the Knights had a good chance of winning the title if they hit their straps at the right time.
Dobson, who has another 12 months’ contract with the Knights, was disappointed South Melbourne coach Frank Arok was sacked last week.
“I don’t like to see any coach get the sack as you are always looking at your own future that way,” he said.
“But that happens in soccer in Australia and you’ve just got to pick yourself up and look for the next job. ”
Dobson said he was looking forward to playing in the bigger league next year.
Today’s Ericsson Cup games: Melbourne Knights v Canberra Cosmos (Melbourne Croatia Sports Centre, 3pm); Sydney United v Marconi Fairfield (Sydney United Sports Centre, 3pm); West Adelaide v Sydney Olympic (Hindmarsh Stadium, 7.30pm).
Today’s Victorian Premier League games: Port Melbourne Sharks v Bentleigh Greens; North Geelong Warriors v Bulleen Lions; Albion Redsox v St. Albans Saints; Melbourne Warriors v Box Hill Inter; Fawkner Blues v Green Gully Cavaliers; Altona Magic v Sunshine George Cross.
SUNDAY HERALD SUN
21st April 1996