HARRY Kewell has admitted that the standard of the Hyundai A-League has proven a rude awakening for him this season and denied there is any issue with unity within Melbourne Victory in the fall out of the Abel Balbo affair.
Kewell has so far failed to live up to the massive burden of expectation put on his pre-season, scoring one goal in seven appearances, with Victory winning just two of their opening nine games.
While he has had his battle with a hamstring injury which cost him one game, and also spent another week on international duty, Kewell still feels he hasn't adapted as he would have liked.
"It's been difficult. The league is not as easy as every one made it out to be," said Kewell. "It's a tough league. It's fast, it's furious, it's strong, it's quick, so it's for me to adapt to that.
"This had probably been a big learning curve for me, coming from Europe back home to play in the league.
"I've been hearing about for the past six years, that it's not like this or that. I've had a rude awakening.
"It's completely the opposite. It's quick, it's strong, sometimes the passes are not as crisp as European passes but the thought is there.
"I'd love to be able to fit into a team and gel straight away, but the players have got to gel with me and me with them and that's still happening.
"The best thing about this league is that you just have to make the top six and that's where the fun and games begin."
The club remains patient with Kewell's integration into the team, with club Chairman Anthony Di Pietro saying earlier this week that the star striker was finding his feet.
"He's certainly improving every week," said di Pietro. "He's playing a bit more time. He's coming off a hamstring which kept him out for a week.
"I think he played an excellent game on the weekend, I think he is only going to get better.
"Just remember Harry just landed before the season, so he missed the pre-season with the team and I think the improvement, week in, week out, he's improving and missing the pre-season was difficult."
It has not only been things on-field which have troubled Kewell, with speculation about his influence in off-field affairs also strong in recent weeks.
Most of that centred on the role of former Argentina international Abel Balbo, who was linked with a personal coaching role with Kewell, something the striker has now decided against.
He said there was never any formal proposal to bring Balbo into the club on an official basis.
"Personal coach, no. It was in a pre-contract discussion but at the end of the day it was something that was talked about, but as far as I am aware, it has nothing to do with me or Melbourne Victory," he said.
"My dealings are with Melbourne, always have been with the club."
He said his relationship with coach Mehmet Durakovic and the other members of the coaching staff remains as strong as ever, despite suggestions that the Balbo issue could have undermined Durakovic's authority over his star signing.
Kewell added: "The best thing about this club is that you can talk to everyone and everyone is on the same page.
"The good thing is, I feel I've got the support from the club, which is an important thing."
Kewell, who was rested from Tuesday's exhibition match against LA Galaxy, expects to be able to play the full 90 minutes against Adelaide United at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, a game Victory must win to get their season back on track.