Impressed Thwaite makes an impression

Victory defender Michael Thwaite is as impressed with the Hyundai A-League as the Hyundai A-League is by him.

Victory defender Michael Thwaite is as impressed with the Hyundai A-League as the Hyundai A-League is by him.

The Socceroo arrived in Melbourne on a loan deal ahead of this season, hoping to revive a club career that had lost its way since he moved to Norwegian outfit SK Brann. But after an excellent Pre-Season Cup and then an impressive A-League debut against Sydney FC, there is nothing but positive energy from the 25-year-old.

“Personally, I enjoy playing again, I’ve got a smile on my face, I’m just really happy with the squad and the coaching, I’ve got a hell of a lot to learn after this match and hopefully we can take that into the match against Wellington,” he said after Saturday’s 0-0 draw in Sydney.

Thwaite was delighted with his first hit-out, even though the result could have been much better if Melbourne had have taken its chances. He said there is much to work on but the signs are very good.

“I’m really excited to be back, the standard of the A-League is very good. We’ve just got to maintain our intensity for the whole match. We can’t drop off. I think we’re looking very good for the season, we can be negative about how we didn’t get the points, but we just have to remain positive with the amount of chances we created,” he said.

“Tactically we were very switched on I think. We transferred well out of defence. We can alternate from a back three to a back four. It worked really well. We’ve been working hard on that at training and I really like to get forward and express myself. Sometimes I make mistakes but I’m just enjoying the game. And hopefully I can keep pressing down the right hand side.”

Coach Ernie Merrick was very pleased with Thwaite’s debut, especially his ability to run out the game.

“He’s got a tremendous engine for a big fella. He’s not even tired. He could have run for another 45 minutes. It’s another option for us,” Merrick said.

Thwaite has not played club football in Australia since the days of the National Soccer League. His assessment is that the tactical understanding in Australian football has matured greatly.

“It’s been a definite improvement from the NSL. Back in the NSL, there were technically gifted players, but I think tactically, we’ve grown through the Socceroos and what we’ve learned through that. Each club, whether it be Sydney or Melbourne, they’ve got their own style of playing and I think it’s great for the game,” he said.

Thwaite noted that the flexible style of play in the A-League was a marked difference from what he experienced in Romania, Poland and Norway, but that was a sign of the Dutch influence on the Australian game since Guus Hiddink took Australia into the second round of the World Cup in 2006.

“They’re a lot more stricter with their tactics, they don’t like players going out of position. If they play 4-4-2, they mean 4-4-2, but with Melbourne, and in Australia, we alternate so easily. I think that’s what we’ve learned through the Dutch system. I’m learning a lot,” he said.

Victory memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season are currently available from the Victory Shop, 236 Swan Street, Richmond, by calling 1300 GO MVFC or online by clicking here.