Irresistable Archie still the key for Victory

Half an hour played, Victory 3-0 to the good and a helping hand in two of the three goals scored. Welcome back, Archie.

It took all of four seconds for Archie Thompson to make his presence felt.

Blocking a pass from Joshua Brillante immediately after kick-off may have paled in contrast to his assist for Marco Rojas-s first goal and his darting run into the Newcastle Jets- 18-yard box, which culminated in a penalty for Melbourne Victory - and subsequently the home team-s third goal of the afternoon - however it served as a telling reminder that Thompson was back and that his team are much harder to beat with him in it.

So much so that it-s no coincidence that Victory have only lost three games with their marquee man in the squad. Or to put it another way, Victory have only managed to win once in the six games he-s missed — seven if you include the Round 20 clash against Adelaide in which he limped off after 36 minutes.

Melbourne Heart provide the lock bet every time they venture on the road; backing a Victory loss when Thompson is absent from the matchday squad appears the next safest bet.

Ange Postecoglou confirmed the obvious when he spoke about Thompson-s importance on the park following the striker-s influential role in Victory-s 5-0 demolition of the Jets.

“It just makes us look more threatening in different areas," he said.

Seemingly aware of the threat, Ruben Zadkovich declared in the lead-up to the match that “we have to be on our guard”, but the Jets were powerless in nullifying the 34-year-old-s influence and were carved open like a roast Turkey on Christmas Day.

As Andy Harper noted during the commentary, Thompson offered pace in the deep-lying, ‘false 9- role that Marcos Flores does not, meaning he can mix up his approach and play off the shoulder of the last defender, as he did in the opening minutes of the match when his insightful run behind Taylor Regan was almost rewarded with a through ball from Scott Galloway.

His versatility and ability to adapt also speaks volumes for his quality as a footballer. Despite the years ticking over and this being his 17th season as a professional footballer, the evergreen forward is still showing different shades of his game.

It-s his relationship with Victory-s younger brigade that-s of most value for Postecoglou and creates most angst amongst the opposition.

Rojas, for instance, grows in stature whenever combatting defences with Thompson by his side, who takes the lead of the older brother by drawing the attention of the crowd and allowing Rojas to slip in behind the defence unnoticed like a pick-pocket on a train in Naples.

Postecolgou put it best earlier this year when he remarked how Thompson is “playing a real disciplined role that's allowing Marco to excel”.

Thompson has joked that wherever Rojas plays his football next season, “he needs me on that pitch”. And after the manner in which he delivered Rojas-s first goal of the match on a silver platter courtesy of a first-time, defence-splitting ball, he may have a point.

Less than 25 minutes later, Thompson was at it again, this time releasing Connor Pain down the right flank with an assured first touch, who then returned the favour to Thompson by acknowledging his untracked run with a neat pass to the edge of the area.

Thompson-s twinkle toes made light work of Dominik Ritter; his change of direction drawing a labored foul from Regan and a penalty for his efforts.

Half an hour played, Victory 3-0 to the good and a helping hand in two of the three goals scored. Welcome back, Archie.