Having seen off a desperate Western Sydney on Tuesday night, Melbourne Victory boss Kevin Muscat has backed the Wanderers to come home with a wet sail in the second half of the season.
The Victory added more misery to a forgettable Hyundai A-League campaign for the Wanderers with a gritty 2-1 win at Pirtek Stadium.
While Victory are flying-high in equal second spot – just four points behind leaders Perth – the Wanderers’ finals hopes look gone without a win from their opening 12 games.
But Muscat warned it would be foolish to write off the Asian champions just yet.
“I have no doubt they will beat a lot of teams from now until the end of the season, they’ve got too much quality,” Muscat said of the Wanderers.
“They worked very hard tonight. I’ve watched a lot of their games and they’ve been in a lot of them.
“They were in the game tonight. It wasn’t as if it was one-way traffic. In terms of where they end up is probably not a question for me but they will take a lot of points in the second half of the season.”
While impressed with the Wanderers, Muscat was more pleased with the performance of his troops, who withstood a second half barrage to take all three points.
Carl Valeri’s stunning volley was cancelled out by Nick Kalmar’s goal 10 minutes after the break, before the visitors steadied and took all three points with Gui Finkler’s late winner.
“When you take into consideration everything, the amount of bodies we had available, the turnaround we had after the conditions we played in our last game…I thought we showed a lot of resilience tonight,” Muscat said.
“We wanted to end the first half of the season before this mini-break on a positive. We’ve possibly to come to one of the hardest places to get points so I’m very pleased.
“We’ve got a lot of sore bodies. There’s been a lot of games in a short space of time so from that perspective there’s players that have worked very hard and were on fumes out there tonight.
“What they gave their teammates was excellent. (The break) gives us an opportunity to freshen them up, not for too long because we have a lot of work to do because we still have a lot of improvement in us and we’ll use this time to get better.”
Muscat also praised the performance of youngsters like Nick Ansell, Scott Galloway and Jesse Makarounas to play as well as they did in front of a hostile crowd of almost 15,000 at ‘Wanderland.’
“I think I’m being rewarded (for playing the youngsters,” Muscat said.
“We said from the outset with circumstances as they are with the salary cap…everyone’s going to be used. It’s important when your opportunity does come that you’re ready.
“Nick Ansell was outstanding, playing well above his age, Jesse (Makarounas) put in a really good shift for us, Dylan Murnane was up against a very good player and he would have learned a lot from tonight and he’ll bounce back.”