April 06, 2015 12:26:07 UK
Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat won’t be drawn into discussing his team’s premiership chances or finals football, despite seeing his side dethrone A-League leaders Wellington Phoenix.
Victory inflicted a second consecutive 3-0 home defeat on the side coached by their former mentor Ernie Merrick, and moved a point clear at the top with a game in hand.
On paper, they have a clear edge over their four Premier’s Plate rivals as their remaining four matches are against teams outside the top six.
That sort of stuff is that far away.
Having finally got back to the league summit for the first time since round four, though, Muscat wants to make sure his team’s focus is only on next Friday’s home clash with bottom side Newcastle Jets, a game that Victory can be backed at 1.30 to 3/10 win.
Asked to look forward to the finals, Muscat said: “That sort of stuff is that far away, you’d be very naive to fall into that trap. What it does do is give me confidence that when we play good football, we’ve got a good chance of getting a result. We go into next week’s game with a bit of confidence, and that’s all it does. Nothing more.”
Wellington had beaten Victory 3-2 in Melbourne just a month ago and were confident that, having got their players back from international duty, they could rebound strongly from last weekend’s 3-0 defeat to Melbourne City.
Muscat sent his team out with instructions to go at the home team from the start and that was rewarded with a goal inside the first minute from Gui Finkler. The visitors went on to have 60 per cent of the possession and played 170 more passes than the Phoenix, as well as racking up 15 attempts on goal.
Being in top spot had a negative effect on both Wellington and previous leaders Perth Glory, but Muscat doesn’t feel any external pressure going into the final four matches.
“We apply pressure on ourselves and that’s the greatest pressure of all,” he added. “Anything external shouldn’t affect us.”
Melbourne Victory are 3.75 to beat Newcastle Jets by a one-goal margin.
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