Ange Postecoglou’s Melbourne Victory needed to get right after dropping a tough one to Adelaide United the previous week. They had their chance this past Saturday against the Western Sydney Wanderers.
“We want to finish top,” said Melbourne’s Billy Celeski to Dejan Kalinic for melbournevictory.com.au. “I think the message has been loud and clear from the beginning that we want to finish on top. If there’s three points up for grabs each week, we want to get all three.
“Obviously Ange has been a big influence on my game this season. The style of football that we play definitely suits my game. I think a lot of it comes down to him being here. We haven’t really changed anything much from day one, it’s just been all about ourselves and our structure and improving every day.
“The improvement might seem rapid to a few but within the club, we’re really excited at how quick we’re moving and we think we’ve still got a little bit of improvement in us.”
Young gun Daniel Mullen was given the task of helping spearhead a strong defensive outing against a team that is nowhere close to a typical expansion side in Western Sydney.
“We obviously have got quite a few absences (for tomorrow’s game against Western Sydney) and there is seven games plus finals to go so there is no point in easing him in,” Postecoglou told Kieran Francis for melbournevictory.com.au. “We can’t wait two or three weeks and the reason we signed him is because we felt he was ready to be thrown in.
“If I didn’t think he was ready, we wouldn’t have signed him. He is comfortable with that and we are happy to put him in there.”
Postecoglou was very wary of Western Sydney’s performance this season, which has already surpassed all expectations.
“They (Wanderers) are well coached and well organised and the players seem to have bought into the whole philosophy of the football club. They are running on that momentum now which is a pretty powerful thing. They’re playing with a lot of confidence and probably playing a little bit fearlessly because they have certainly exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Postecoglou concluded. “We’ve been pretty consistent in trying to play our football. When we execute well and we play well, we are pretty hard to stop so from our point of view every week’s an analysis of the opposition but how we can overcome them playing our game.
“We didn’t really get into any flow or rhythm last week so it’s really important for us to get into the game early, particularly here at home, and get the crowd behind us and play our football and try and take the game to them.”
Unfortunately, Melbourne came nowhere close to doing that, as they were the next team to fall to the Wanderers, 2-1. Connor Pain put the Victory on the score sheet in the 75th minute, but goals from Iacopo La Rocca in the 11th minute and Shinji Ono in the 72nd minute of play proved to be all the difference at AAMI Park.
No question about it, the Victory are back to playing some diabolical football never before seen since the start of this season. Could it get any worse?
“Early on we had some pretty good moments and we needed to get that first goal,” Postecoglou told Iain Strachan for melbournevictory.com.au.“In big games, first goals count for a fair bit. It was a decent game, high tempo. Good crowd in, good atmosphere and had the feeling of a big game.
“There are plenty of other sides who would be happy to be in our position but we’re not. That’s not what we’re about. It was a disappointing night for us, particularly at home, we’ve been really good all year and we need to be better at home and win these kind of games. From our perspective, there’s no point feeling sorry for ourselves. (We have) just got to get back to work and make sure we rebound next year.”
Three words, Mr. Postecoglou—no, make that four: Stop. The. Bleeding. NOW. That is the message Melbourne Victory fans will need to make as they continue their season against the Central Coast Mariners on Feb. 23 at Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford, New South Wales. Without a sense of urgency, it will be impossible for the Victory to catch Central Coast and Western Sydney as the regular season reaches its climax.