Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat insists his club will be fine after Mark Milligan’s departure.Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat insists Mark Milligan’s departure won’t be a fatal blow to the A-League club’s title hopes.
Just weeks after their board voted to decline offers for the 32-year-old Socceroo, Victory this week reluctantly agreed to sell Milligan to cashed-up Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli.
Money was the decisive factor for both club and player, with Victory relenting after receiving a third bid well beyond the $300,000 offer they originally resisted.
Just six days earlier, the club had issued a statement declaring the 2015 championship captain would remain a Victory player until “at least” the end of the season.
Muscat on Friday refused to be drawn on the club’s efforts to prevent Milligan’s departure, saying he was focused on Saturday’s clash with Newcastle Jets.
“The conversations were private and they’ll remain private,” he said.
“We can dig and scratch but the concentration is (elsewhere).
“I’m not saying it wasn’t disappointing. I’ve admitted that it’s disappointing but we move on.
“We’ve got a big game to look forward to tomorrow with a real good group and a positive group.”
Should Victory go to the transfer market to replace Milligan, they won’t be constrained by the salary cap given the three-time World Cup attendee was on a marquee deal.
But Muscat remains bullish about his fourth-placed side’s midfield depth, with recent signing Terry Antonis likely to slot in alongside Carl Valeri and James Troisi.
Victory were thrashed 4-1 by the Jets during their last visit to Newcastle but they redeemed themselves with a 2-1 win at AAMI Park in December.
Star winger Leroy George has trained well and will be considered for selection after being sidelined with hamstring soreness.
STATS THAT MATTER
* Victory have struggled to win in Newcastle. They have claimed the three points from just one of their past 11 visits to McDonald Jones Stadium.
* Muscat’s side have turned around their form on the road of late, winning four of their past five away games.
* Newcastle have scored a goal in 18 consecutive games – halfway towards the record set by Brisbane Roar in 2011.