Macarthur FC fell short in their A-League semi-final but coach Ante Milicic is confident their first season is a platform they can build on.
Coach Ante Milicic says Macarthur FC will be hurting from their A-League finals exit for some time, but he's confident the competition newcomers have set a platform to kick on.
The Bulls' first season came to an end in Sunday's 2-0 semi-final loss to Melbourne City but they had two golden chances to take a first-half lead, with Charles M'Mombwa having a shot cleared off the line and Ivan Franjic hitting the crossbar.
"It's hard to get to these games. It's a big opportunity, I felt we were a massive chance," Milicic said.
"In the end, I'm hearing all those cliches - 'first year was good, it was decent, we got to this game'.
"Maybe it's right but I know with the group of players that we have, they're very disappointed.
"They expected more, they wanted more. We all did and to fall short the way we did, it's going to definitely hurt for a while."
Despite Macarthur's disappointment on Sunday, there was plenty to like in the A-League newcomers' debut campaign, where they remained in the top-six all season and beat third-placed Central Coast in their elimination final.
"We've set a platform, we've set a way of playing," Milicic said.
"But of course that keeps on evolving and a lot has to do with the time you spend on the pitch, the players coming at the start of pre-season getting a better understanding.
"But also, they get a better understanding as well as players how I work and my staff also.
"So looking forward to seeing how that process unfolds during the off-season, but we've been active in the way that we're looking forward towards next season.
"We're probably a more preferred destination now in the A-League than what we were 12 months ago. So if anything, that's something to be pleased about."
Macarthur are expected to announce the signing of departing Wellington playmaker Ulises Davila while they have also been linked to Central Coast's Danny De Silva and City winger Craig Noone.
One confirmed departure from the playing ranks is captain Mark Milligan, who has called time on his professional football career, but will join Milicic's coaching staff.
"When you start up a new club in these difficult times around the world, you know that Mark Milligan can accelerate your process," Milicic said.
"So he's been fantastic for us, he's a gentleman.
"To have him working closely with me next year, I really look forward to it."