Melbourne Victory defender Leijer motivated to avenge Grand Final defeat
The former Fulham and Norwich City man, who stood in as Victory captain last night against Boca Juniors in the absence of Kevin Muscat, admitted that all of the Melbourne players were intent on turning the disappointment of a penalty shootout loss to arch-enemies Sydney around this season.
"It was hard to take last year. Personally, for me, it's spurring me on a lot so to get out there tonight for our first real hit out of the pre-season was exciting and everyone is really looking forward to it," Leijer said.
When asked his thoughts on the Victory pre-season, Leijer said everything was extremely positive and looking good heading into the 2010/11 season which kicks off against the Sky Blues on August 6.
"It was very good. I've been training very hard and I suppose there is only so much you can do in training so to get out there and put it into a real game against quality opposition like Boca was great for us and it will help us a lot heading into round one," he added.
Coach Ernie Merrick was also satisfied with how his sides pre-season had come along, saying last night's match was the perfect hitout.
"It's been a different pre-season because we had such a long year last year," Merrick said. "The boys got four weeks off, our training has been very intense and because of the number of rounds we've got next year plus finals and ACL (Asian Champions League) we've bought 28 players into the squad so we are playing a lot of 11 v11s and the good thing from a coaches perspective is we don't have to go through the strategy over and over again. We've really hardly changed the team. So that allows us to play four competitive matches.
"We played one the other day against Bentleigh, we've played this one today and then we've got two more - Dandy (Dandenong) Thunder on Tuesday and then the (Central Coast) Mariners in Launceston - so it's short and sharp and about finalising the first eleven. Today was a huge step forward."