Newcastle Jets defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley says his teammates are fully aware they have a target on their back this season.
Newcastle meet Melbourne Victory in the Grand Final rematch on Saturday and Topor-Stanley was using the heartbreak in May as motivation to go one better this season.
Both teams are winless so far this season but the Jets vice-captain said he had been around long enough to know any team can lose regardless of how strong their squad is.
Topor-Stanley added they needed to step up their game from last season, despite making the Grand Final.
“I think there’s an automatic reaction that comes with success,” he told FTBL.
“I’m not saying we’re the ones to beat, but talking from experience and when you have a successful season, it puts a target on your back.
“We know that and we’ve spoken about it a lot. We need to shift up a gear or two and play better to achieve results.”
The A-League veteran is happy with the team’s performances this season, despite succumbing to a 2-1 loss to Wellington Phoenix in the first round and then a 1-1 draw to Adelaide United last week.
“We played both games away and we took the game to the opposition,” the 33-year-old added. “I feel like we were bold in what we did and we need to keep that attitude and play that hard style.
“We’ve been a bit unlucky with the goals we’ve conceded. The goal we copped in Adelaide was a great ball and great goal even though we had people in the box to deal with it.
“I’m trying to teach all parts of my knowledge to the other boys that if we do get beat, it has to be a good goal. Adelaide’s goal was a good one and you can’t be too hard on yourself.
“I think we’ve started to play a bit more consistently from what we’ve aimed to do, but we haven’t got the results.”