Guilherme Finkler says Archie Thompson keeps surprising his Melbourne Victory team-mates by delivering on the big stage despite reaching football's equivalent of extreme old age.Few outfield players continue to produce their best at 36 and quick forwards are particularly vulnerable to the ravages of time.
Thompson may not be lightning fast any more, but the 54-cap Socceroo is still sharp enough to have netted eight goals this season, including two in the last two matches.
Starting in place of the injured Kosta Barbarouses, Thompson showed exceptional control when he collected a Finkler through-ball and scored past Eugene Galekovic to earn a 2-2 away to Adelaide United on Saturday, prompting the Brazilian who supplied the assist to marvel at his evergreen team-mate. WRAP: Adelaide United 2 Melbourne Victory 2
"He's been playing for so long and still has the quality to finish like that," Finkler said.
"Not every player can do it, especially at his age. He knows sometimes he has to back up a little bit but he keeps pushing hard, as he did last week when he scored the equaliser for us."
Besart Berisha, another key member of Victory's potent attack, sat out training on Tuesday after limping off late in the draw at Coopers Stadium, but Finkler is confident the international marquee striker will recover in time to face Central Coast at home this weekend.
"He [Berisha] pulled up a bit sore but I think he's going to be fine for Friday.
"Still two or three days before the game, hopefully he can be on the park with us."
The visit of the Mariners presents the Big V with an opportunity to close the gap on league leaders Wellington Phoenix, are four points clear at the top and not in action until Sunday, when they host Sydney FC in New Zealand.
"There's always pressure to win when you play for Victory," Finkler said of the contest at AAMI Park.
"On Friday it's no different. We're playing at home and really focused on getting the three points."
Asked if he believes Victory are capable of winning the Premier's Plate and then the title, the playmaker said: "I think we have to. Right now we are just focused on Friday. If we get the three points then we wait for Wellington [to play].
"Right now five teams can win the premiership, every point is really important."