“Final piece of the puzzle” – Muscat hails Victory versatility in wake...

“Final piece of the puzzle” – Muscat hails Victory versatility in wake of Toivonen arrival


At the 6 August press conference announcing the arrival of Keisuke Honda at Melbourne Victory, Head Coach Kevin Muscat asked for patience from the Vuck faithful, assuring them that more signings were on the way.

Since then, Muscat and the Victory have secured the services of Spanish defensive midfielder Raul Baena on loan from Spanish Segunda Division side Granada CF and signed striker Ola Toivonen on a two-year-deal from French Ligue 1 side Toulouse.

The high-profile additions have erased many of the question marks surrounding the A-League champions following the loss of players such as Rhys Williams, James Donachie and Besart Berisha during the most recent offseason and give Muscat every chance of staging an elusive championship repeat in 2018-19.

Speaking at Toivonen’s first official appearance as a member Victory on the banks of the Yarra River on Thursday afternoon, Muscat reflected on the renovations that his playing group had undergone.

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“It’s been a very productive offseason for us,” Muscat said.

“The transformation (from) where we ended up last season to where we are now has been huge.

Ola Toivonen made his first official appearance for Melbourne Victory on Thursday

“There’s a number of areas in reviewing our campaign last year where we thought we had to change and try and improve.

“We’ve worked quite hard in the past 12 months in putting things into place, not only here domestically but the foreign spots as we have seen in all the championship winning teams are vital.

“We’ve put some things into place and there has been a real emphasis on that this offseason.

“I think from a holistic approach right through the staff now to the final piece of the puzzle – with Ola arriving last night and Raul on Monday night – we think we’ve done some really good business and are excited about the season ahead.”

“Our sole objective now is to pursue another title.

“It’s now about going away. We’re heading to the Sunshine Coast next week with a full squad and we will get down to some work.”

Thirty-two-years-old, Toivonen arrives in Melbourne coming off a World Cup campaign in which he started every single one of Sweden’s game on their unlikely run to the final eight.

Having previously plied his trade at club level at clubs like PSV Eindhoven, Sunderland and Malmo prior to arriving at Toulouse, the six-foot-four Swede has been quickly earmarked as the Victory’s starting striker by the club, but Muscat emphasised his versatility on Thursday.

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“Ola arrives after a successful WC campaign. Starting all five games for Sweden and scoring also,” Muscat explained.

What we have done is created even more flexibility in our front third.

“Ola has scored goals in his career and we have seen that recently in the World Cup. He can also drop a little bit deeper and occupy wider areas. It creates some unbelievable competition for places and gives us some real flexibility.

“Next week we will spend some serious time on the training pitch and have a look at some different combinations and work out what’s best for all the individuals combined.”