THEY may be chalk and cheese on the field but Travis Dodd has leapt to the defence of Jacob Burns, saying the embattled Perth Glory skipper is not a dirty a player.
Dodd, who was captain at Adelaide United before joining the West Australian outfit in 2011, admits he’s a very different type of leader to Burns.
But ahead of a crunch match against Newcastle Jets at home on Friday, the 32-year-old said it was time for other clubs to stop trash-talking the Glory captain and his men.
The unwanted distraction caused by last weekend’s half-time spat between Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi and Burns over words with a fourth official was the last straw.
“As far as I’m concerned, Jacob has every right to speak to the referees and for it to have gone on for as long as it has, with Aloisi making the comments he has, I think probably enough’s enough,” Dodd said.
“(Burns) is certainly a player that wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s going to give you 100 per cent every time he steps onto the pitch.
“But I think the comments of – well, really all last season and this season – how we’re a rough team and a physical team, and I guess the comments added before the Heart game that we bully sides and that kind of stuff, I think that paints us in a bad light especially leading up to games.
“I think it gives a false impression of our team that we’re like that when I don’t think we’re like that at all.”
Dodd says the fact he and the Glory captain have a very different approach to the game when they cross the white line is a positive.
“I think the way that we both are on the field is very different,” Dodd said of their leadership styles. “I know that Burnsy as a captain is quite loud and vocal and has got that aggressive nature about him.
“I think I’m probably more of the opposite side where I’m more quiet on the field. I guess I like to speak to the referees but Burnsy’s got that real get in your face and assert his authority type thing.
“So yeah we are different types of leaders but certainly I think you need a bit of both in every team.”
And he believes the defensive midfielder’s example of leaving nothing on the field has helped shape Perth’s uncompromising reputation as a difficult side to break down.
“I think he plays fair,” Dodd said. “I don’t think he’s a dirty player by any stretch of the imagination and he leads by example so when players see their captain going in hard, I think that encourages the next player to go in hard.
“I do remember playing against Perth and knowing that the players like Burnsy and Andy Todd, when he was here, and Chris Coyne – they’re uncompromising players. You know you’re going to be in for a solid game.
“But I think the way we play now, our football deserves more credit than our physical aspect.”
The last time Perth picked up a win was in round five, a 3-2 goalfest against the Jets and Dodd is hoping the return of the Hunter outfit sees the home side back to its prolific best.
Glory have conceded 10 goals this season – one of the best defensive records in the league – but worryingly have scored just nine. Only Western Sydney Wanderers have struggled more in front of goal.
Double golden boot winner Shane Smeltz has been in and out of the line-up with injury and international duty and Dodd admits the team has failed to make the most of its opportunities. But the return of Socceroos Michael Thwaite and Scott Jamieson, and possibly Liam Miller from injury will provide a welcome boost.
“We certainly need to turn things around,” he said. “We’ve got players coming back into the side – I think that will promote more competitiveness within training and hopefully lift the squad to another level and get us back to where we were a few weeks ago.
“If we can string two or three results together it puts us right back up into the top half of the table.
“It’s a massive game for us and we need to make sure we go out there with a mindset to pick nothing up but three points.”