Melbourne Victory forward Andrew Nabbout believes the current squad is capable of challenging for a finals place, with eight games remaining in the Hyundai A-League season.
Victory hosts rivals Adelaide United in Round 21 at Marvel Stadium this Saturday night, in a double-header with the Westfield W-League side.
Following a busy schedule in recent weeks due to AFC Champions League fixtures, Nabbout and his teammates have had a full week to prepare for this weekend’s clash.
“We need to take hold of the game from the beginning,” stated Nabbout. “We can’t let them play. If we put them on the back foot early and press, it will be a tough night for them.”
Never give up
Victory’s last meeting with Adelaide ended in defeat for Carlos Salvachua in his first game as Head Coach. Nabbout believes the squad has learnt a lot since then and hopes a win this weekend will inspire a late sprint for a place in the top six.
“Taking three points this weekend will be huge for us,” said Nabbout. “It will help us kick on into the next few games and hopefully we can storm into the finals.”
Victory is currently nine points behind the top six, but a win over fifth-place Adelaide would close the gap.
“As long as its mathematically possible to make the finals, we will never give up and even then we will still try to take three points, no matter what the circumstances are.”
Carlos Salvachua was appointed Head Coach only two days before Victory’s visit to Adelaide in Round 15, where Victory suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat.
“He only had a couple of days to work with us before that game,” said Nabbout. “He’s a new coach and he hasn’t had the luxury of a full pre-season with the team, where he can stamp his structure and philosophy on us.”
“We were playing four at the back, but with Carlos (Salvachua) we are playing five, so that’s not something you can just click your fingers and change.”
“It takes a little bit of time to work on and we’ve got the quality to make it happen. We know our positions. We know our structure and we know the way in which he wants us to play.”
Turning things around
The Victory forward believes improvements can be made throughout the squad and a full week of training has allowed Salvachua to address some underlining issues.
“The travel schedule has been pretty hectic and taken its toll on some of us,” he admitted, referring to the club’s ongoing AFC Champions League campaign.
“We’re not short in the chances department – we’re obviously creating a lot of chances. We just have to bury them and be a little more tidier up the other end.”
“There’s room for improvement everywhere,” he continued. “I should’ve finished more chances than I have, but I have created a lot of chances too.”
“I’ve done a lot of work in that wide role and there’s still room for improvement. Obviously I have to score more and get more assists and I will be working on that for the rest of the season.”