'The first time I’ve ever had that' - Former Portsmouth, Millwall and Luton midfielder makes surprise claim as he settles in at Adelaide United
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The 30-year-old, whose 12-year spell in senior English football saw him line up for nine different clubs, has revealed there’s an expectation within the Reds’ ranks to win the A-League this term.
And that’s a pressure the former Manchester United trainee claims he never encountered at any of his previous employers.
As well as the Blues, whom he joined in the summer of 2021 on a free transfer, Tunnicliffe as also played for Peterborough, Barnsley, Ipswich, Wigan twice, Blackburn (all on loan), Fulham, Millwall and Luton.
The vast majority of his career was spent in the Championship with these sides. Yet the highest league placing ever experienced by Tunnicliffe was the fifth-placed finish the Latics secured during their 2013-14 season – and even then the midfielder featured just five times for the club over a two-month temporary stay.
Both campaigns spent with Pompey in League One produced 10th and eighth-placed finishes respectively. And while the majority of the Fratton faithful would have expected the Blues to make a better fist of things over those two most recent seasons, Tunnicliffe said finishing top of the pile with Pompey or any of his other previous clubs was ever on the agenda.
Speaking ahead of Adelaide’s trip to Melbourne Victory on Saturday, the Englishman said: ‘We’ve started the season well and it’s obviously a different challenge for me.
‘It’s probably the first time in my career that the manager said "let’s put a marker on our shoulder – we want to win the league this year”. I think that’s probably the first time I’ve ever had that, trying to win the league in a top division.’
Tunnicliffe has featured in each of Adelaide’s opening three games of the 2023-24 A-League season. The midfielder is yet to start a game, though, following his move in September as Carl Veart’s side sit top of the early standings.
He insisted, however, that he was catching up fitness-wise.
Tunnicliffe added: ‘I feel like I’ve been getting fitter and stronger. Obviously training with the boys and a couple of games now, three pre-season games under my belt. But the boys have been playing really well, so I’ve got to patiently wait for my chance. And then when it comes, hopefully I can complete that 90 minutes.’
2016 A-League champions Adelaide are next in action on Saturday when they play Sydney FC.