Muscat: We won’t rest

Melbourne Victory skipper Kevin Muscat says a ‘hunger’ for further success will prevent the club from resting on its laurels after winning its second Hyundai A-League championship in three years.

Melbourne Victory skipper Kevin Muscat says a ‘hunger’ for further success will prevent the club from resting on its laurels after winning its second Hyundai A-League championship in three years.

In the 2006/07 season the Victory swept to the A-League Premiership and Championship double, completing it with a 6-0 rout of Adelaide United in the decider, but in the following season failed to make the finals.

But having taken out the Premiers’ Plate again over the Reds, and then adding the Championship with a hard-fought 1-0 win in Saturday night’s Grand Final, Muscat says the club will continue to build its winning culture.

“What we did, (coach) Ernie (Merrick), myself, (Football Operations Manager) Gary Cole, (assistant coach) Aaron Healey, we’ve been here from day one,” Muscat said.

“Fortunately enough you can work on things, you can build a team culture and because we’ve been here from the start, along the way you’ll get distractions and disruptions, and we certainly had that last season, but we’ve moved on.”

“Where we go from here, if players are at this football club and they’re not hungry to win things and be successful, they won’t remain here.”

“And I’m pretty sure that’s why Ernie will move on into the market and try and find those players because you’ve got to be hungry to be successful and that’s the culture we’re trying to build.”

Muscat also lauded his team-mates, pointing to their response to adversity several times this season, including in Adelaide when they twice came from behind to win 3-2 and then when they won by that score against Sydney after trailing 2-0 after five minutes.

“I don’t think that we’re miles better than anyone in the competition, but what we have got is a determined group and a very mentally strong group,” he said. “And then after that we’ve got a lot of talent.”

“There’s boys with a lot of individual flair that can turn a game on its head and we have to earn the right to win things, earn the right to play, and I think we do that first and foremost and then try and get at teams.”

“The opposition tonight tried to defend and hit you on the break whereas our mentality, our philosophy is a little bit different, that’s just how it goes and it’s no coincidence that we end up winning the competition because we scored more goals than anyone else.”

Asked about his future, having refused in recent weeks to reveal his plans beyond the end of this campaign, Muscat again gave nothing away because he said he didn’t want to distract attention from the result.

But he also believed that while his team had not been able to capitalise on its numerical advantage in the first half, and then copped a 10-minute battering early in the second, that it was only a matter of time before a goal came, with Tom Pondeljak bobbing up.

“They started the second half really well but from where I was it was certainly only a matter of time before we scored a goal,” he said.

“I thought we played some excellent stuff in the first half, you’re defending your back third for long periods of time like that, eventually something’s got to give and it eventually gave and we held on.”

While Muscat wouldn’t talk about his future, Pondeljak was quick to call on his team-mate to extend what has been an impressive career for at least another season, and paid tribute to the 35-year-old and what he means to the Victory.

“When you’ve got someone like Kevin Muscat as a leader of your team and every player’s got the utmost respect for him and listens to every word he says and the boys generally listen to him and believe in him,” Pondeljak said.

“I don’t think you can go too far wrong and I haven’t been involved in too many teams that have got a leader like that so (I feel) privileged and honoured to have someone like that in the side and hopefully he stays on for a few more years yet.”