Hopkins outlines 'where the big improvements can be' as surging Victory eye top-four finish
Jeff Hopkins insists he is not letting a three-game winning streak alter his belief that improvement is necessary for Melbourne Victory to have any chance of a deep Finals Series run.
Hopkins' side moved into third on the Westfield W-League table after a 2-0 Round 9 win secured against Newcastle Jets.
The result ensured Victory picked up a third win on the bounce – a run which began off the back of a 6-0 loss to Brisbane Roar in Round 5.
Although delighted with his side's response since being belted by Brisbane, Hopkins says Victory are nowhere near the standards they are aiming to reach this season, as an entertaining tussle between five sides to reach the 2020/21 Westfield W-League Finals Series continues.
"It's great that we've won three games now but we're still saying that we haven't hit anywhere near our best," Hopkins told the club website.
"Hoping again next week and the week after and the week after that we can keep improving and hopefully then, coming into the last couple of games of the season, hopefully then we'll be in a position to make the Finals and we can roll into the Finals in some real good form.
"That's what we're hoping, that's what our aims are."
MATCH REPORT: Newcastle Jets 0-2 Melbourne Victory
Despite being firmly entrenched in the top half of the Westfield W-League table, to progress to the Finals Series will be no easy feat for Hopkins and Victory this season.
Five sides are locked in a fierce battle for the top four slots which guarantee post-season football, with Victory even with Adelaide (13 points) in fourth and Canberra United sitting in fifth (11 points).
Adelaide, Victory and Canberra all have a game in hand on Brisbane Roar in second (16 points), with Sydney FC leading the race for the Premiers Plate (18 points).
Adelaide can leapfrog Victory back into the top three by earning a point or more against Sydney FC on Sunday afternoon (kick-off 4pm AEDT). It's a reminder for Hopkins' surging Victory outfit of the job at hand: to improve in key areas and keep pressure on the teams around them in the battle for table ascendancy.
ROUND 9 PREVIEW: Sydney FC v Adelaide United
"There was some good stuff, especially in the first half (against Newcastle), but we just needed to be a little bit more consistent, even a little bit more confident in the way that we combined," Hopkins said.
"I think when we got the ball down and we played three or four simple passes and then set the ball up and played the next ball through it was so much better.
"At times we have a tendency to hurry, to try and penetrate the lines of our opponents. I thought when we did things really well, we kept the ball for two or three times and we got our heads up and we actually looked for the correct moment to penetrate.
When we did that we played some really good football but we've just got to keep working on that, just making sure that we recognise the moments. I think that's where the big improvements can be."
Hopkins continued: "We've addressed certain things every week and this week we did talk about if we were going to win the game, that we would have to manage the game well, that we would have to be quite disciplined in the way that we went about the game.
"I thought in the last 15, 20 minutes, although they were really trying to get back in the game, I thought we were quite comfortable. We kept the ball quite well, we kept the ball away from them and we didn't really look like we were going to concede.
"If we go back two games to the Adelaide game (a 1-0 win in Round 6) where we were 1-0 up, we were quite frantic in the last 10 minutes of the game. Whereas [against the Jets] we were a lot more comfortable in possession and we kept the ball away from them.
"From that side of things I thought that was quite pleasing."
Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United
Friday, February 26
No. 2 Sportsground
Kick-off: 6.05pm AEDT
Melbourne Victory v Canberra United
Sunday, February 28
Kick-off: 4.05pm AEDT
ROUND 9 PREVIEW: Brisbane Roar v Perth Glory