Cole praises respect culture

Victory football operations manager Gary Cole believes the club's focus on respect has been crucial to Melbourne retaining 14 of the 16 players in the 2009 Grand Final side for the upcoming Hyundai A-League season.

Victory football operations manager Gary Cole believes the club's focus on respect has been crucial to Melbourne retaining 14 of the 16 players in the 2009 Grand Final side for the upcoming Hyundai A-League season.

Cole has been a busy man since the Grand Final on February 28th and in the past three weeks has secured the signatures of two vital players in Carlos Hernandez and Kevin Muscat.

He described the negotiations surrounding Hernandez's signature as the longest he'd ever been involved with, while the deal to retain Muscat's services was complicated by the club's desire to tie the skipper to Victory after he finishes playing.

Thai international Surat Sukha and New Zealand national goalkeeper Glen Moss are the only 'new' faces at the club with Mathew Theodore promoted from the youth league squad and an additional spot remaining for a locally-based player. Michael Thwaite, Michael Theoklitos, Steve Pantelidis and Sebastian Ryall are the players who have departed.

Cole believes that the culture of respect between players and officials has been an important part of Melbourne keeping the core of its side together and was a big help in his negotiations with Muscat and Hernandez.

"I think negotiations are about relationships. That's how we like to base them. The club from the board down has had a great stability, over the five years. On day one, when Ernie and I started training with seven players, including Aaron Healey and we had a four a side, and Ernie Aaron and I played. We spoke to the group that day about respect," he said.

"That's the core value around the place. I think if you treat people respectfully, that helps when it comes to doing those kinds of things."

Cole also pointed to the club's professionalism both off and on the field as well as its facilities in key in convincing players to remain or come to Melbourne Victory.

"It's obviously a fantastic club, we-ve got a fantastic supporter base, a brand new stadium going up down the way, there's a lots of good reasons, all that counts when you come to negotiating and we've got the salary cap as everybody else. Being able to juggle that and make that work, is a credit to the club and how it's positioned itself over the five years."