KEVIN Muscat declared suggestions of Melbourne Victory’s demise were greatly exaggerated, as they plot a sixth straight win to maintain pressure on leaders Sydney FC.
Victory, who have a game in hand, hosts Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park on Friday night, with a win drawing them within four points of FC who host Western Sydney on Saturday.
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Unlucky Nick Ansell will come in for suspended Alan Baro in defence, while Marco Rojas has been declared fit to duel with Roar left-back Corey Brown.
The three-time A-League champions have overcome patchy early form to hit a near flawless streak, undefeated in eight games and winning eight of their last 10 games.
The Victory coach said the 4-1 Melbourne derby drubbing in Round 2 was an aberration, with performances otherwise strong.
“I didn’t think there was a point in the season where we had to turn things around,’’ Muscat said.
“We had a start where we conceded in the last 10 seconds against Brisbane (in Round 1), the derby and all of a sudden it was considered a shaky start.
“Our performances, bar one game, were pretty good and because we analyse results, all of a sudden winning the last five or six weeks does that necessarily means performances are better?
“It happens a helluva lot in this country, we highlight the negatives so much because it becomes a sport of its own.
“You can also learn from what you do well and finding ways to improve on that. We’ve been doing some very good things the last five or six weeks. I’m not talking about results, but performances and clear-cut chances we’re creating.
“It’s down to the group, they’re so thirsty for ways to improve.’’
Friday night kicks off a gruelling schedule for Victory, which comprises four games in 14 days schedule including trips to Wellington and Perth.
Rojas trained strongly at Gosch’s Paddock on Thursday while Ansell gets a rare start after James Donachie has been preferred as Spaniard Baro’s partner.
“James and Alan have been solid, we’re fortunate we’ve kept a solid back four in the last month. That gives a bit of confidence amongst themselves,’’ Muscat said.
“But Nick’s played enough games this season and he gets his opportunity. He’s been waiting patiently, sometimes not so patiently.
“Marco had all the tests, there was no structural damage, just swelling, but he’s trained the last couple of days, he’s fine.’’
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