Muscat relishing summer challenge

Friday’s visit of Wellington Phoenix kicks off a run of seven Hyundai A-League matches in 30 days for Melbourne Victory, but the boss wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I love it, I enjoy it, I haven’t known anything else during the festive period [other than] playing football,” Kevin Muscat said Thursday.

“On the continent [in Europe] they take a break over this period… but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The packed fixture list throws up a number of challenges, whether it be travel, conditioning and selection, but Muscat vows there’ll be no surprises and that the Club’s pre-season preparations and training was built with this period in mind.

“When the fixture list came out we saw we had seven games between now and the end of January.

“Planning took place in pre-season, Anthony Crea [Head of High Performance] is the best in the business when I comes to player conditioning and well-being.

“[These] preparations were made and completed months ago. We’re confident in our physical capacity to get through this period.”

In the immediate term, the Melbourne Victory boss provided an update on the status of his squad.

Raul Baena and Georg Niedermeier are both working towards returns, with the former a chance to feature tomorrow night. Unfortunately the latter will have to wait at least one more week. 

“[Raul] has had another four or five days training.

“He’s trained well, so he comes right into contention. He’ll be in the squad, whether that’s in the team or on the bench – we’ll leave that until as late as possible tomorrow.

“[Georg] is running well, doing full weight bearing in his running, but he’s not available for this weekend.”

A win would see Melbourne Victory go top of the Hyundai A-League until Monday night at least and could result in the boys in blue ringing in 2019 as league leaders.

“It’s always nice to go top of the ladder, without doubt, [but] those things, like the result, are an outcome. 

“There are other things we spend our time focusing on, like a performance and all the things that lead to a performance. That’s the only thing that concerns me at this point in time.

“[If] we perform well enough, let’s see where that takes us.”