Team spirit behind Rojas rise


Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou says star forward Marco Rojas’ stark improvement this A-League season was down to support from his team-mates.

Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou says star forward Marco Rojas’ stark improvement this A-League season was down to support from his team-mates.

The New Zealand international struck a sublime brace to help Victory to a 3-2 win over the Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park on Friday, and his coach said his progression from zero goals last campaign to five in his past five matches was down to support from his fellow boys in navy blue.

“We’ve set up the team and the structure to benefit players like him and Archie (Thompson), we’re set up for them to do what they do, and I think he’s benefitting from his team-mates being able to supply him with the kind of service that a player like him needs,” Postecoglou said.

“He’s not in situations anymore where he needs to fight with opponents, obviously he’s not the biggest guy in the world, and we’re getting him out in space, but he takes a lot of the credit for that because he wants to learn, and he’s still got improvement in him.”

The two-time A-League-winning coach took a swipe at the match officials, furious he could not substitute Jonathan Bru prior to Newcastle’s first goal.

Newcastle went on to draw level with Victory at 2-2 courtesy of goals from Ruben Zadkovich and Emile Heskey cancelling out Rojas’ and Thompson’s strikes, before the Kiwi’s winner, but Postecoglou was still angry his pleas to make a sub fell on deaf ears.

“I assume they spend a lot of money on miking people up, officials … unless they’re listening to music with those things, I was pretty disappointed the message wasn’t getting across because Jonathan Bru was struggling, and he was the one that couldn’t close Zadkovich down,” Postecoglou said, with Bru then being substituted out of the game immediately after the goal from the Jets skipper.

But overall Postecoglou was happy his side continue to churn out results, while simultaneously developing young players.

“It’s not about being happy for points, it’s about continually improving the way we play. Again there were signs today that we are, we’re developing it (the game style), but we’ve still got deficiencies in our set up that we’re constantly working at,” he said.

“We’re progressing as a football side, but we’re developing some footballers too. You saw glimpses of Andrew Nabbout tonight, he’s coming along really nicely, Nicky Ansell (also), and we reckon we’ve got two or three more in our youth team that coming into the (new) year, people will see.

“It’s not just about winning games of football at the moment, which obviously is always the primary objective, but I think we’re developing some good footballers.”

The coach also took time out to praise makeshift centre-back Leigh Broxham, who filled in for skipper Adrian Leijer admirably, despite Newcastle’s star forward Heskey getting his name onto the scoresheet.

“To Leigh’s credit, when I told him (he was to play centre-back) … he jumped straight into it. We could have played with one of our other centre-halves, but with Nick Ansell as an 18-year-old, I just thought we needed some experience there,” Postecoglou said.

“He did fantastically well, which I knew he would. Obviously people will be surprised, but we watch these guys train every day, and play every day, we make decisions based on that. And probably people look at his size (compared to Heskey) … at the end of the day, size doesn’t matter in football.”