Kevin Muscat says Melbourne Victory are aiming to end their Gosford hoodoo against a Mariners team who could be something of an unknown quantity under Phil Moss.
Kevin Muscat says Melbourne Victory are aiming to end their Gosford hoodoo against a Central Coast Mariners team who could be something of an unknown quantity under Phil Moss.
The Victory have endured some disappointing visits to Bluetongue Stadium of late, losing 6-2 there last season, before bowing out of the finals following a 1-0 away defeat at the hands of the Mariners later in the campaign.
Central Coast's last home loss to the Victory came in December 2010, and they have only been beaten three times in 13 meetings with the Melbourne team - home and away - dating back to August 2009.
"We haven't won there for a while," Muscat told reporters ahead of Friday's game.
"It's about time we broke that hoodoo."
When it was suggested the Mariners have struggled so far in 2013-14 to recapture their title-winning form of last term, Muscat was unconvinced: "They're still a good team. They're going to be hard to beat and we're going to have to be at our best to come back with three points."
The parallels between the two clubs are apparent, with both teams having lost their head coach since the start of the season, to be replaced by their assistants.
Ange Postecoglou has left Victory for the Socceroos in October, while Graham Arnold departed the Mariners for J-League club Vegalta Sendai earlier this month, prompting Moss to take over.
Muscat isn't sure exactly what to expect from the new man in charge, but does not anticipate radical changes from the previous regime.
"It's a difficult one because the same kind of questions were raised when I took over (at Victory)," he said.
"Mossy inherits a good team built on good structures. I don't see there being too many changes."
The Victory will encounter a familiar face among their opponents on Friday, with Marcos Flores, the player signed as their international marquee ahead of the 2012-13 campaign, now plying his trade in Gosford after being released at the end of last season, having largely underwhelmed in navy blue and white.
The Argentine is surely keen to show Victory what they are missing out on this week, and while Muscat acknowledged the forward is undeniably talented, he is more concerned about ensuring his own players perform to the best of their ability in an important clash.
"I haven't really focused on him (Flores) individually," he said.
"They've got certain ways they want to play as a unit and they'll utilise him in a specific manner, we're aware of that. Marcos is a good footballer. (But) from our perspective it's more about what we'll do than worrying about Marcos Flores."
With Leigh Broxham, who surprisingly started at right-back in the 3-0 win over Adelaide last week, and Adrian Leijer both suspended, Muscat confirmed Nick Ansell and Jason Geria will start in defence against the Mariners.
James Troisi is also set to keep his place in the starting line-up, despite reacting angrily after being substituted to make way for Ansell following Leijer's dismissal last Saturday.