Pantelis: Don’t write Reds off

Tip Adelaide United to finish at the bottom of the table for the second year in a row at your own peril.

Tip Adelaide United to finish at the bottom of the table for the second year in a row at your own peril.

That’s the message from vice-captain Lucas Pantelis ahead of the Reds’ season opener against Newcastle on Friday.

Pantelis believes United are better than there last-placed performance in 2009/10 and wants his team to rewrite the record books.

The Reds were feared in the Hyundai A-League’s burgeoning years and Pantelis is looking to reinstate that reputation.

“Not too many clubs would fear us and that’s something we have to gain back. In the first few years of the A-League we were feared and to finish bottom of the table last year we know we’re going to get that tag.”

“They have every right to say that considering how disappointing we were last year in finishing bottom,” the diminutive midfielder said.

“There’s a lot of pressure on us to prove ourselves. I don-t think we were a bottom side last year I think we were a lot better than that. This year is a totally new season and we want to prove a lot of people wrong.”

The speedy winger acknowledges winning home matches this season is to United’s improvement.

Hindmarsh Stadium was a fortress in season 2008/09 for United, on their way to a 1-0 grand Final defeat to arch rival Melbourne Victory.

The Reds won eight of 11 games at home that campaign and lost only once, 3-2 to the Victory in Round 10, while they found the back of the net 25 times and conceded only eight goals.

Last season the Reds lost five of their 14 home games and won only four, scoring 15 goals and conceding on 19 occasions.

“Winning your home games is the most important thing, not just for Adelaide United but for every club around the world,” he said.

“Winning your home games is probably a number one priority and whatever you get away is real a bonus. We want teams to come here and really fear us and know they have a game on their hands.”

“Last year we didn’t do so well but this year I’m sure with Rini and a few new boys added to the squad we can prove that.”

The 28-year-old said United enjoyed a month off following the AFC Champions League before returning for a short and sharp pre-season.

“It’s been probably better because we’ve only had eight short weeks of pre-season,” he said.

“Compared to last year when we didn’t make the ACL we had pretty much three and a half to four months of pre season and so it’s quite long. We had a decent rest, we had four weeks of and by the time you start pre season, before you know it, it’s Round 1. I reckon it will work out well for us.”

Pantelis will lead the Reds out onto the pitch against the Jets at Hindmarsh Stadium in the absence of captain Travis Dodd who is at least another month away with a groin injury.

With Dodd missing and Robert Cornthwaite out with a groin injury, the left footer will be the only remaining member of United’s inaugural squad to take the field on Friday night, and although Pantelis admitted he is starting to feel old, he believes the Reds’ future is promising.

“I’m probably the third or fourth oldest at 28,” he quipped.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys coming through and it’s really exciting. The club has a really bright future.”