Victory focused on A-League finals
Posted on 04/25/20 7:44 PM
Victory coach Kevin Muscat has put player contract talks on hold ahead of an A-League finals push.Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat says all contract discussions at the club have been sidelined until season’s end as he galvanises the club for a last push to the A-League finals.
Well beaten in a mid-week Asian Champions League outing in South Korea, Victory need three points on Sunday night against Wellington if they’re to keep hopes of a home final within their control.
It’s why Muscat’s focus is on the football – not players’ futures – as they head into the final furlong.
“This game is a big game for us – huge,” Muscat told AAP.
When Muscat does find the time to think about his playing group for next season, he’ll find a few players requiring attention.
Senior players Leroy George, Carl Valeri, Lawrence Thomas, Leigh Broxham, James Donachie, Matias Sanchez, Christian Theoharous and Stefan Nigro are without deals to play next year.
“I’m always having private conversations with individuals. It’s the nature of the business that we’re all in,” he said.
“It is a difficult one because no one likes to be in that situation but there’s so many blocks to fall into place that it affects a number of people.
“All of the discussions now will wait until the end of the season.”
Each player’s circumstances are unique.
George is likely to attract attention in and abroad after a stellar campaign.
Thomas, despite his mid-week howler, and Donachie might also find interested suitors.
Stalwarts Valeri and Broxham are nearing the end of decorated careers, with Broxham at least near certain to play on.
Muscat doesn’t believe the uncertainty is affecting players as he heads into their final home game of the regular season.
While the visiting Phoenix sit last, Sunday’s fixture has the potential to be a real headache for Victory.
An already skinny squad has been hit by suspensions to Rhys Williams and Kosta Barbarouses.
With most of his team spending a collective 40 hours in transit for their Asian exploits, Muscat faces another tricky exercise in player management in selecting his team.
Terry Antonis and Sanchez, who didn’t travel, should be simple selections.
Elsewhere in the side, players – including captain Valeri and Besart Berisha – could clearly benefit with a weekend off.
“You might say he got a rest the other night,” Muscat said of Berisha, who was substituted at halftime in Ulsan.
“There’s quite a few bodies in the same sort of position … we’ll wait and see who he recovers.”
STATS THAT MATTER:
* Victory are on a three-game winning streak at home
* But against Wellington, they’ve lost their past two at AAMI Park
* If selected, ex-Victory man Scott Galloway will play his 100th A-League game. In every meeting against Victory, he’s lost