Harry Kewell says Melbourne Victory don't believe in pressure, and is confident the A-League's slumbering powerhouse can flick the switch and play the quality soccer they're capable of.
Despite being poked with a stick for weeks about performance, age and ability, the Victory still remain a big chance of making the A-League finals if they can kick-start a season which has so far failed to get going. But the big 'if' is winning one of their next two matches - against competition leaders Central Coast Mariners in Melbourne on Friday night or Brisbane Roar the following weekend.
Then, the Victory embark on a run of winnable matches, starting with bottom side Gold Coast and fellow top six aspirants Newcastle and Sydney FC. Good results could give them the momentum and points they need to make a finals charge.
As the Victory struggle to post their first win under new coach Jim Magilton, Kewell shrugged off feeling any pressure ahead of the Mariners clash at AAMI Park.
"We don't believe in it (pressure). We just believe in playing the right kind of football," Kewell said. "We've obviously been getting a fair bit of stick over the last few months, and everyone's allowed their opinion.
"We know what we're capable of doing, and we think we're close to achieving that."
Kewell said Magilton's main thrust was getting his team playing good football consistently in a match - players and coach believing that is the key to the results they need.
"The only ones who have got away are Central Coast, but from the first moment I've been over here, it's been about making the six. Then, anything can happen," Kewell said. "Whether we knock off the ladder leaders, or (win) the next week or the week after, the manager's just looking to play the right kind of football.
"He knows if we can get the right kind of football, the results will come naturally to us."
Kewell and his team-mates had perspective put on their weekly pressure tests, visiting patients with acquired brain injuries at Melbourne's Epworth Hospital on Wednesday.
The ABI Cup - an annual match between Epworth HealthCare workers and Victoria Police - is played as a curtain-raiser to the Victory-Mariners clash. It aims to focus attention on road safety, with car accidents the major cause of acquired brain injuries.
Meanwhile, the Victory have strengthened their squad, finalising the signing of Spanish centre-back Ubay Luzardo on loan until the end of the season. They have also re-signed skipper Adrian Leijer on a two-year contract extension, while first-teamers Matthew Foschini and Petar Franjic have also signed new deals.