Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat pointed to skipper Carl Valeri’s return around the group as a morale booster after their 2-0 win over Wanderers on Friday night.
Victory breathed life into their finals hopes. It was the Victory of old as they ran over a spirited Wanderers in the second half.
And Muscat noted the return around the group – though not on the park – of his skipper as a boost to team spirit after shock health issues put paid to his season some months ago.
“If I’m honest, just seeing Carl train over the last 10 days knowing that he’s healthy gave me greater pleasure than getting him into the team.
“So there’s no doubt the flow on from that and having him around the group, he’s a talented footballer… and I’m pleased to have him around the group.
“And he’s training well and not having any reactions to the training loads which we’re mindful of.”
Muscat also changed things around to face Wanderers, though he was coy on what exactly he adjusted and executed.
“We came up with a couple of things I’m not going to go into detail, we might meet them again.”
And after a week when Muscat publicly questioned the group’s endeavour, he got the reaction he wanted after a run of poor form.
“I want to pay credit to the group because it’s been a tough week and when you’re involved in this industry you’ve got to take the good with the bad.
“But the last week’s been pretty ordinary. The criticism was coming thick and fast and the majority of it was warranted.
“So to react like that I thought it was an outstanding performance and a reminder to ourselves of what we’re capable of if we apply ourselves.”
“We were good value for the three points tonight and the mental strength to perform at that level,” he added.