Melbourne’s non-Victory: three cheers for justice
Occasionally a little moment comes along that suggests that there is a bit of justice in the sporting world.
One such nugget of beauty arrived yesterday as the ridiculous Melbourne Victory captain Kevin Muscat was shown the red card as his team lost 4-1 to Adelaide.
It was almost as funny as watching him miss a penalty in last year’s Grand Final against Sydney which cost his team the game.
Muscat has long been a stain on the game of football. His cynical, nasty approach has left a long line of victims. His will be a career remembered only for its viciousness. You have to wonder how proud he is of that legacy.
For too long he has been protected from real criticism in Australia by a pliant media and the old boy’s network. For a long time it seems the referees have bought into this conspiracy of silence but yesterday Peter Green has perhaps shown officials are finally prepared to stand up to the bully.
The tackles he was sent off for yesterday were pretty minor in the Muscat repertoire. A trip on Cassio was enough for the first yellow card, while a flailing arm in the face of Adam Hughes brought the second.
In years gone by Muscat would have got away with it. If Muscat has a talent, and that’s debatable, it’s about masking the true intent of his tackles. It’s often not so much the original tackle that does the damage. It’s like yesterday, the flailing arm as the player runs past, it’s raising the studs after the ball has gone, it’s the unnecessary dropping of the knees into prone players. All entirely deliberate and calculated to cause damage.
Years ago while interviewing a young Nathan Burns he told me of his first pre-season game for Adelaide United. As Burns came off the bench as a sub he ran past Muscat who proceeded to punch him in the stomach.
Burns was unhurt but there are plenty of others who haven’t been as lucky.
An English court ordered him to pay almost $2 million to a Charlton player called Matty Holmes who had his career cut short after another horrific tackle. Players such as Wales international Craig Bellamy and France’s Christophe Dugarry have suffered horrible injuries from Muscat.
Muscat can whinge all he likes that all of the above were accidental, but that is frankly, bollocks. He is a thug.
And to make matters worse he is a whingeing thug. Watch him on the field. He constantly berates the referee. For a supposed hard man he spends a lot of time looking for soft free kicks. He is quite happy to take a dive as required.
All of which masks another essential truth. He’s not much of a player. He has survived on a hard-man reputation and clearly has a lot of opponents running scared. But have a look at the poor first touch, his erratic passing, his slowness and his suspect temperament. There’s not much to like.
Everyone likes to sprout the old line: “yes, but you would like one of him in your team’’.
No. When he was playing for Australia there was the constant fear he would just embarrass the country with another outlandish display of brutality such as the one where he scythed through Dugarry.
If he was in my team I would squirm. We all want to win. But not like that.
This could be Muscat’s last season in the A-League. Let’s hope so. The game will be far better for his absence.
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