'They celebrate like it's a Grand Final': Victory star's cheeky City jibe in Melbourne Derby build-up
Gun goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas aimed a subtle dig at rivals Melbourne City by suggesting Melbourne Victory have bigger fish to fry ahead of a blockbuster season-opening derby.
The two title hopefuls commence their Hyundai A-League campaigns at what is expected to be a rocking Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.
Victory enter as reigning Champions and their Joe Marston Medallist questioned whether City invest too much emotion in the contest.
"It's sort of a Grand Final for them," Thomas said.
"If they beat us they tend to celebrate like they've won the league, whereas our goals are well beyond this game.
"Obviously we pay full respect to them and go in wanting to win the game.
"It's important for the club and the fans for us to start well because we haven't in the past two years. But our picture is much bigger than this one game."
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Several key Victory recruits including Keisuke Honda, Georg Niedermeier and Ola Toivonen are in line to make their Hyundai A-League debuts in one of the competition's most impassioned environments.
Thomas, 26, believes the team's new-look spine is in strong order and is encouraged by how the fresh additions have slotted in as the Grand Final winners seek to triumph in the season's inaugural Melbourne Derby for the first time in three years.
"Their names speak for themselves with regards to their quality," the shot-stopper said of the exciting arrivals.
"I'm just really looking forward to seeing on Saturday night, in front of big lights and a good 30,000-40,000 people, how we turn up.
"I'm sure it will be positive and very aggressive and very strong.
"You have to fight hard. I assume it's going to be quite fiery, quite intense early on. Then you have to earn the right to play after that."
Minor margins to have big influence
The influx of new faces from back to front has made Victory something of a mystery leading into their Champions Trophy defence.
Thomas, one of the central heroes of last season's success, insists the small details remain well within control and will define whether more silverware is forthcoming.
"It comes down to setting standards in the club. The daily culture, daily attitude," he said.
"The biggest thing I took from the Grand Final against Sydney FC two years ago was how minute the differences are in the big games.
"There are such fine margins between winning a Championship and not.
"We haven't looked too much at anyone else, at this club we're always trying to lead the way, and I guess the way you stay above everyone else is in your daily standards."