Perth Glory coach Alistair Edwards failed to front his mandatory post-match press conference after a lacklustre 2-0 loss to Melbourne Victory, sparking suggestions of a team blow-up.
Victory won 2-0 through Adama Traore and Gui Finkler goals an hour apart, leaving plenty of time for nervy moments to pervade the Victory coaching bench.
At the final whistle on Friday night, Glory veterans Jacob Burns and Michael Thwaite were visibly distressed and Edwards kept his men in the changeroom for a long team meeting.
The no-show brought more attention to the Glory’s poor performance, testing Victory ‘keeper Nathan Coe just a handful of times as Victory eased to a 2-0 win.
Edwards opted not to bring captain Jacob Burns off the bench, making only two substitutions for the night.
Burns, returning from a two-game suspension, had no known injury concerns and seemed ideally suited to Perth’s tactics of flooding and shutting down the Victory midfield.
The FFA match commissioner confirmed around an hour after fulltime that Edwards did not intend to meet his media obligations in the wake of the loss.
Victorious coach Kevin Muscat was satisfied with the three points, with the form of chief creator Mitch Nichols a particular high point.
Nichols assisted the first goal and sparked the second with a glorious back-heel that found Finkler, who dribbled past two before James Troisi’s short pass set up a one-on-one chance Finkler buried.
This was Victory football at his sharpest – in contrast to the previous wasteful hour.
While Muscat attempted to put his performance in the context of a greater team performance, there was no denying his pleasure at Nichols’ work.
“Mitch Nichols couldn’t have performed at the level he did if he didn’t have ten other mates supporting him,” he said.
“He was a part of what we achieved tonight and a very good part”.
With Ange Postecoglou in the crowd for the game, the obvious question was begging to be asked: could his form merit a spot on the Socceroos’ flight to Brazil?
“You’d have to ask Ange,” Muscat said with a grin.