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New Macarthur FC captain Adam Federici is confident the Bulls can overcome a difficult start to pre-season, and the weight of expectation, and again make their mark in their second A-League campaign.
The Bulls are aiming to improve on last season's semi-final appearance and have snapped up Ulises Davila, Craig Noone, Danny De Silva and Tomi Juric in an impressing recruiting drive.
"The second season's probably always going to be that little bit harder because expectations change, people suss you out pretty quickly," Federici told reporters on Monday, when he was named Mark Milligan's replacement as captain.
"Last season was a bit of a benefit - not everyone knowing how you're going to play and how you're going to approach the game.
"Where this season, everyone knows what they're going to get from us, the style of football we we're going to play and there'll be a bit more in-depth analysis on the team.
"... We had a really good side last year and we had expectations on ourselves so that won't change this season."
Macarthur were among the clubs affected by NSW's COVID-19 outbreak, with players in different local government areas at times unable to train together earlier in pre-season.
"When we're allowed to train we train and we do it to the best of our abilities," Federici said.
"Some of the boys weren't able to train earlier on, but thankfully now we're able to train together and start building the team a little bit.
"When we can play games, etc, we don't know. It's no use being a fortune teller and trying to predict the future at the minute - each and every session is as important as the next.
"That's the way we view it and it improves training a little bit as well because we know that it needs to be spot on - because we don't know what's going to happen next week or the week after."
Helping Macarthur's preparation is the A-League's call to push back the season by three weeks, with the Bulls hosting Wellington first-up on November 21.
"We know we're going to be playing and where we're going to be so we'll work back from that date now and look towards the start of the season," Federici said.
"But the extra few weeks gives us a little bit more time to jell together.
"We've quite a few new players and a little bit more time to get the fitness up a little bit, more time to have a bit more togetherness within the team to be ready to go when the games start rolling in."