Lady Red Cockayne preaches patience

Patience. It's not a word usually associated with football, a world in which results are the only currency.

Patience. It's not a word usually associated with football, a world in which results are the only currency.

But Adelaide United's Westfield W-League squad needs a healthy dose of patience and understanding as they attempt to rebuild following three years of hardship and disappointment.

The stats don't make for pretty reading: two last place finishes and a second last.

Last year was rock bottom, with just four goals scored, 36 conceded and 10 straight defeats.

The Lady Reds have gone through more coaches than Greyhound and been painted as the Westfield W-League's basket case, but that word keeps cropping up as we enter the 2011/12 season.

Patience.

"People write us off and talk negatively at times about the coaches and players so it's really important to go out there and prove the public wrong and try and get them behind us rather than bagging us," young Adelaide midfielder/forward Donna Cockayne said.

"We're not going out there trying to get thumped week in week out."

"You try to brush it (the criticism) off as much as possible but it is frustrating."

"I don't expect people to expect anything from us this year which may be a good thing."

"We can go out there and surprise a few teams and hopefully have a better year."

"We just need to be patient and build slowly."

There is good reason for Adelaide to be more than a little optimistic heading into season four.

American striker Ashleigh Gunning returns from a stint in Sweden to spearhead the Reds' attack and Kiwi defenders Abby Erceg, who will captain the side, and Anna Green have crossed the ditch to shore up a defence that leaked goals at an alarming rate last season.

No wonder Cockayne has a smile on her face after the torment of past seasons.

"Some of the lower ranked teams will be more competitive and hopefully that includes us," she said.

"We've got a couple of girls from New Zealand - two solid defenders which is what we've needed - and Ashleigh is back to hopefully get among the goals."

"We might not have the really big names of some of the other clubs but we have a very solid base."

"We're trying to get that development process going so in the next year or so we've got a stronger squad."

"It might take some time but I am confident we can get there."

Step one begins against Canberra at Hindmarsh Stadium in Saturday's season-opener.