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MELBOURNE VICTORY GLORY: Muscat's title pivotal in A-League history; AFL wishes it was this exciting; Take bow MVFC scouts

MUSCAT TITLE A PIVOTAL A-LEAGUE ACHIEVEMENT

It's the most significant title triumph in the competition's history. Kevin Muscat leading Melbourne Victory to the A-League championship is a pivotal moment.

Here's a young, Australian coach, who has led the Victory to two titles as a player, now doing the same as head coach. Muscat is a pure coaching product of the A-League - and the manner of Victory's performance on Sunday should leave everyone connected to the competition's formation proud.

Muscat returned to Australia as a world-weary fullback. Towards the end of that inaugural season, he was on his last legs. But under Ernie Merrick, that following campaign, Muscat transformed himself. He became a deep-lying midfielder - football's modern-day quarterback - and drove Victory onto two title triumphs.

He'd spent almost a decade in Europe, at clubs of the stature of Wolves, Millwall, Crystal Palace and Rangers. Yet, it was back home in Australia, in the A-League, where Muscat was truly able to show the full range of his talent. It was on home soil, in his hometown, where he played the best football of his career.

Now, four years after hanging up his boots, he's led the club back to the summit with a team that epitomises Muscat's on-field personality.

Going into the final, Muscat spoke of the opportunity he had to take in Liverpool training on the invitation of Brendan Rodgers. Yesterday, Victory was Liverpool at their high-octane, pressing best. Off the ball, Victory never let up on their Sydney opponents. Roared on by a full AAMI Park, they hunted in packs, with real aggression. Time and again, Sydney were rattled.

And when on the ball, the pace didn't let up. There was no square or defensive passing. The first instinct from Victory was 'get it forward'. On or off the ball, it was edge of your seat stuff. A thrill to watch.

Even the goals captured the mood. There were no tap ins. Besart Berisha, Kosta Barbarouses and Leigh Broxham all thumped home their efforts. Pure, raw power.

JANKO vs DELPIERRE A TOP SHELF MATCH-UP

A sure sign of how far the A-League has come was the direct match-up of Sydney FC striker Marc Janko and Melbourne Victory defender Matthieu Delpierre.

Two big men, Janko, the current Austria captain, against Delpierre, once of Stuttgart and who could easily still be playing in Europe's elite, yet here they were at AAMI Park, head-to-head. And they weren't even the headline act!

It was Besart Berisha and Sydney FC attacker Bernie Ibini who fans were eager to see on Sunday.

But having Janko and Delpierre, still at the top of their game, go head-to-head just smacked you between the eyes. An incredible match-up for a competition still maturing.

TAKE A BOW VICTORY SCOUTS

This Melbourne Victory squad is the best we've seen in A-League history. The title belongs to Kevin Muscat and his backroom staff. The scouts, the negotiators, the directors - everyone involved who brought this team of monsters together.

Every player who joined Victory in the winter had an edge to them. The imports, Matthieu Delpierre and Fahid Ben Khalfallah, had carved out great careers for themselves in Europe and were still young enough and hungry enough to accept anything Muscat demanded from them.

The returning Aussies, Carl Valeri and Daniel Georgievski, had fought and scrapped for everything they could achieve overseas. Valeri in Serie B, Georgievski in Romania and Macedonia. They forged careers through sheer will, where others would've returned home broken by the experience. These arrivals were all hardened, senior pros. Proper footballers. All proven winners.

THIS FINAL WAS WHAT AFL WISHED IT COULD BE

Sunday was a performance of what Melbourne sport USED to be. It was a spectacle that AFL and rugby league wish they could recapture. From the kickoff to the final whistle, there was no let up from the players. Big men clashed. Courageous men fought on. Blood was spilled. It was pure, Aussie sport - at its very, very best.

The diving was gone. The tippy-tappy stuff dumped. Matthew Jurman was caught square in the face by Besart Berisha's elbow and as he was being patched up, Berisha wiped the blood from his elbow. Jurman played on. Berisha ended the winner, but Jurman's efforts will live long in the memory. This was raw, power driven football.

The watered down AFL has nothing on yesterday's entertainment. If this can be kept up, the A-League WILL draw fans away from the traditional football codes.


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