Melbourne Victory boss Kevin Muscat has once again hailed the off-season recruitment of Keisuke Honda, claiming the Japanese marquee is setting “very, very high standards” and that they drag "people along with him”.
Honda's on-field impact has been clear to see, the import scoring four goals and setting up another three in a blistering start to his first Hyundai A-League campaign.
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Honda's influence hasn't been limited to match day, either, as Muscat revealed during Friday's press conference.
“He has got very, very high standards. There’s no doubt players are, I suppose, thriving off what he does, a little bit,” Muscat told reporters.
“He’s been a breath of fresh air about the way he conducts himself and the way he prepares [at training].
“It has been great because his standards are very high and it drags people along with him.”
Muscat said that Honda’s impact had not surprised him, though, given the exceptional amount of “due diligence” the club did before signing the 32-year-old midfield dynamo.
“We’re pretty proud of the way we recruit players and people,” he added.
“We’d done a fair bit of due diligence. I certainly was well aware of what we were going to get and haven’t been disappointed from that perspective.”
Victory have won their last four and go into Saturday evening’s Original Rivalry clash with Adelaide United off the back of a 4-0 thrashing of Western Sydney Wanderers.
It was a sublime performance and one that left many installing Victory as title favourites.
But Muscat said the club did not spend long basking in the glow of that triumph, insistent the season was still in its early stages - and that Adelaide would present a strong challenge.
“So much work has been done on preparing for Adelaide, it [Wanderers win] is almost a distant memory, to be honest,” he said.
“We’ve worked on re-producing a performance but albeit against a different opponent, different challenges, there’ll be different questions asked in the game.
“Marco [Adelaide boss Marco Kurz] has done a fantastic job in relation to the way they play and what we’ve seen in our preparations.
“They’ve improved structurally on where they were last season. They play a high energy game so [we] look forward to an exciting game if that’s what they’re going to bring to the contest.
“The way we are playing at the moment, it should be a very competitive game and a good contest.”