Gold Coast Utd players focussed: coach
Ignoring outspoken billionaire Clive Palmer is easier said than done.
But interim Gold Coast United coach Mike Mulvey says he is "damn proud" of his young team for not being distracted by yet another controversy sparked by their A-League club's owner.
That's no mean feat.
Palmer has made the sporting public sit up and take notice for all the wrong reasons after the latest stunt in his running battle with Football Federation Australia (FFA).
Heads were shaking after he opted to slap a "freedom of speech" slogan over their sponsor on their playing strip for last round's clash with Melbourne Victory.
What was more baffling was the explanation - they wanted to highlight "awareness to the broader community about the plight of refugees".
FFA threatened to call off the United-Victory game but instead opted to issue Gold Coast a breach notice.
United have vowed to keep the slogan, throwing more doubt over their immediate future.
It is enough to sidetrack the game's toughest veterans, let alone United's injury-ravaged player list which now resembles an under 23s side.
But Mulvey said his young brigade had never lost focus in the three games under his reign following coach Miron Bleiberg's sacking.
Palmer may have raised eyebrows but Mulvey believed the club would truly become a laughing stock if it lost the plot on the field during the controversy.
"If we were distracted by what was going on and forgot about the performance, then the club would be ridiculed - we realise the importance of our role," Mulvey said.
"And I am damn proud of the way we have risen above everything in the last three games and I know Clive is as well.
"Some of these young players have had to grow up fairly quickly."
Mulvey hoped the obvious spirit in the young group would translate to players re-signing for next season, despite the uncertainty hanging over the club.
The FFA said it would "reassess" the club's future at the end of the season but that may be fast-tracked following Palmer's latest effort.
"We are going to hold talks (with players) in the next few days and I am looking forward to doing that," Mulvey said.
"I am very confident about the future. I believe the club will be around.
"I think we have the makings of a great squad, we have seen that in the last three games.
"The players are buying into what we are trying to do.
"I think a good snapshot is the reaction after each of the goals scored in the last two games - there is a great spirit.
"I don't want to be here and find out any surprises with regards to people leaving or not leaving - I have said to them we are all in this together."