Much has been made of Ola Toivonen’s impact in front of goal, but it’s the Swede’s selflessness drawing the most praise from his coach ahead of Melbourne Victory’s trip to Adelaide.
“[Ola] came in and missed [the early part of pre-season] based on his off-season,” Kevin Muscat said on Tuesday.
“He played in the World Cup and came across having a different start to us, so it took him a little bit longer [to prepare].”
He’s contributed seven goals on the season to date and scored in each of Melbourne Victory’s previous five Hyundai A-League matches, and Muscat believes it’s Toivonen’s selfless attitude and work rate to thank for his terrific early season return.
“He does a lot of work for the team with the ball… everyone talks about working when we haven’t got the ball, but the work he does when we have the ball, he brings players into the play, he brings a confidence to those around him.
“And the amount of opportunities we get in the front third based on a lot of the stuff he does [is outstanding]. He contributes selflessly to the team.”
Muscat will be hoping Toivonen can find the net for a sixth consecutive Hyundai A-League match on Wednesday night, in a contest set to further challenge his squad during the Summer of Heroes fixture list that sees many sides play as many as seven matches in as few as 30 days.
But it's a challenge the Melbourne Victory boss is embracing.
“If you want to make progress you have to evolve.
“And part of this block [of matches], you want to get through this block being a better team; performing better, getting better understandings and being challenged.
“It's a good opportunity to see if we can be a better team come the end of January, but the narrow focus is on Adelaide tomorrow night.
“I'm looking forward to it… we’ve got a fair contingent of our members and fans going across, so it’ll be an exciting game to be involved in, they always are.”
Melbourne Victory play Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Wednesday January 9, with kick-off at 7:50pm.