The pre-grand final barbs have come thick and fast from north of the border and finally Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat has hit back.
Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold loves the pre-match mind games and has aimed all sorts of shots towards his A-League grand final opponents ahead of Sunday’s decider.
Arnold has claimed his Sydney FC side, who finished second to premiers Victory in the regular season, are the best in the league and that they’re the happier to be playing at Melbourne’s AAMI Park than Victory are.
The grand final venue is Melbourne City’s home ground and Victory’s “training ground” according to Arnold, whose side has gone the entire season unbeaten on the road.
On Thursday morning, Muscat took to Melbourne radio to suggest Arnold was wasting his time trying to win a war of words.
“I’m not going to make it about me, unlike Graham Arnold,” Muscat told SEN.
“I’d rather leave it to the players, they’re the ones that have ultimately gone out there and worked the hardest.
“I’m not going to make comments that detract to what the players have done this season.”
The tit-for-tat is unlikely to get either man hot under the collar.
Off the pitch, the pair are good friends after playing and working together in various Socceroos teams over the years.
Sunday’s A-League decider is their most high-profile clash, with Muscat boasting of a perfect preparation for the final because of Victory’s Melbourne derby semi-final.
“You can’t try to convince people that it’s just another game, it’s simply not,” he said.
“Last week, the fact it was Melbourne City … that lead up seemed like a grand final.
“It’s going to be an unbelievable night and one we’ve prepared for.”
Muscat wasn’t prepared for veteran striker Archie Thompson’s call for a new contract on Tuesday, saying he wasn’t going to discuss it before the decider.
“Me making comment on it would contradict what I think … it’s team first,” he said.
“What we ask people is to have an influence on the game and he’s certainly done that this season.
“From that perspective he’s playing his part.”
Victory and Sydney have shared three draws this season, setting the stage for another fiercely-fought grand final.
Victory midfielder Carl Valeri predicted Sunday’s match would be won by the hungriest side.
“It’s the team that’s willing to work the hardest, the team with the most desire normally gets you through it,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter what you do tactically or any strategies, it’s just down to battles.”