A lot can change in football in a short period of time.
Last Saturday morning, Melbourne Victory appeared to be in the midst of a downward spiral; in the midst of a three-game A-League losing streak and returning from China having suffered a comprehensive 4-1 defeat to Shanghai SIPG in the Asian Champions League.
Calls from the Australian football zeitgeist, as well as some of the most ardent of the ‘Vuck’ faithful, for significant change, starting with head coach Kevin Muscat, were growing louder by the second.
A 3-0 victory over Adelaide United however, while in no way eliminating all of the discontent swirling around the form of a club that styles itself as the biggest in Australia, seemed to steady the ship somewhat.
The result meant Victory leapfrogged the Reds into fourth place on the table, and went some way in dispersing the darkest of the clouds that had gathered above the club.
The win also means Victory now sit only four points adrift of crosstown rivals Melbourne City heading into Friday night’s Melbourne Derby, and Victory defender Rhys Williams says his side is looking to continue the momentum from last week into the game.
“We had a chat about it, and they’re (Melbourne City) next who we need to catch,” he told a media conference on Tuesday.
“We had a meeting a few weeks ago about catching Adelaide and what a chance we had, and we beat them 3-0 and overtook them.
Apologies to those who thought I play acted. Good old hustle and bussle which I love but can’t be accepting slaps….I’m sorry for you getting sent off but appreciate the game.
— Rhys Williams (@rhysey14) February 24, 2018
“Next on the list is City and we can’t wait to play them on Friday.
“Every derby is good, there’s tackles flying in, and it’s fun to play in and get the bragging rights.
“We just can’t wait to get going.”
Williams was at the flashpoint of controversy last week; his reaction to a love-tap by Adelaide’s Dzengis Cavusevic ensured the Reds’ Vince Grella look-a-like was dismissed by referee Alex King.
Fringe Socceroo Williams admits that his elaborate reaction to Cavusevic’s slap is not something that he particularly enjoyed doing, but securing a man advantage for his side was too large on an opportunity to pass up.
“It’s the modern game,” he said.
“I think every modern player, they wouldn’t admit it, would do the same thing as what I did.
“I’m not proud of doing stuff like that, but on the other hand, if I had stayed up, would he have got sent off?
“You can’t do stuff like that; if he’d just left me and I pushed him I would have got the yellow and its done with.”
Williams came under intense criticism for his actions last Saturday, but insists the 3-0 win meant it was all worth it.
“It’s part and parcel of the game,” he added.
“We’ve come away with three points and I helped the team out bit.
“He was a big hustle and bustle striker and I was looking forward to the battle.
“I did make a meal of it, and I will admit that, but at the end of the day it’s helped my team and we have come away with three points.
“As long as I am doing right for my team, my team-mates and my coach, that’s all I’m worried about.
“I am getting a bit of stick for what happened, but it’s all friendly banter.”