Muscat issues stern warning to under-performing Victory with Thomas absence

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Despite Melbourne Victory’s 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar on Saturday, Lawrence Thomas’ first bench appearance in over two full seasons of consecutive A-League starts sends a stark warning to the rest of his colleagues at the club.

Matt Acton stood between the sticks for the Victory in only his fourth start in Victory colours since he signed for them in 2016/17 as a backup. While a clean sheet was not on the cards, he and his side manage to snag a win that ended their six game winless streak, a slump that started back in February.

Image Credit : Ngau Kai Yan

“It’s more about selecting Matt Acton than dropping Lawrence Thomas. I picked the team today to win a game of football and Acton was in that team,” Muscat said.

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“The decision was more on Matt Acton based on everything we’ve seen, he was the best choice for us tonight, in our opinion, to give us the best chance of success.

“We need better from Lawrence Thomas, so he’s got to fight for his place,” Muscat said.

Thomas’ exclusion was not the only high profile incident that raised eyebrows amongst fans yesterday.

With his last league goal scored only in January, Ola Toivonen was substituted in the 59th minute after a disappointing showing – and avoided any form of communication with Muscat as he headed straight for the bench.

Raul Baena was also called out by Muscat in the post match press conference for his error that led to Brisbane’s consolation, stating that “he has got to do better in that situation”.

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Muscat cherishes and values good public actions that solidifies his relationships with his players. His decision not to seek out even a nod with Toivonen in front of 16,357 pairs of eyes or to lay blame on one of his own in Baena in front of the attending press horde goes to show that maybe the time for niceties are over.

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A win in this outing under the circumstances is merely a formality. Victory have only previously picked up two points in a possible 12 to go from battling the minors with Perth Glory to fighting a more insignificant battle of tussling for the second place spot on the ladder with Sydney FC.

They sit rock bottom at the AFC Champions League, after losing their two opening games to the sides they were expected to beat.

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Victory’s next three games are against Perth Glory, Sydney FC, and Guangzhou Evergrande.

Image Credit : Ngau Kai Yan

Muscat harped about his side’s showing, but also sounded a stern warning for his players in the post match press conference.

“We should really have killed the game off, we had ample opportunities to make it three, four or five goals,” Muscat said.

“We need better from Lawrence, so he’s got to fight for his place. Carl Valeri has got to fight for his place, Terry Antonis, Elvis Kamsoba when they return, as well.

“The players are out there has got to be better as well, to keep their place.

“Who’s trying their best, who’s training at their potential, who’s working the hardest, who shows desire – will play,” Muscat said.

It’s surprising we’re seeing this side of Muscat so late on in their poor run, but at this stage, this could be the jolt that the players need to roll up their sleeves and right their season where it really counts.

Feature image credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Ngau Kai Yan
Ngau Kai Yanhttp://ngaukaiyan.com
Journalism undergrad at Monash University, Kai is a multimedia journalist covering Melbourne Victory. Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund. Once "stole" Shinji Kagawa's plane ticket.

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