Victory dreaming of MCG derby
Photo Source: AAP
Melbourne wants its A-League crowd record back, and Victory coach Kevin Muscat says a derby date at the MCG will make it happen.
Until Saturday night's blockbuster Sydney derby, which attracted 61,880 people to ANZ Stadium, it was Victory which had monopolised the big A-League crowds.
The top four regular-season attendances in the first decade of the competition - and the biggest two grand finals - were packed out by Melbourne Victory fans at Etihad Stadium.
The biggest club in the country isn't used to playing second fiddle, and Muscat said he'd like a crack at a similar marquee fixture next year at the country's grandest ground to see how big it could be.
"I'm up for it," he told AAP.
"Strategically it would take some thought ... but who's to say if we took round one there this year how big it would have been?"
The MCG is no stranger to big-time soccer.
Real Madrid's match with Manchester City last year drew in more than 99,000, while recent visits from Greek and Italian national teams have drawn crowds around 90,000.
The round-ball game and the MCG is still most closely associated with the heartbreaking 2-2 result with Iran in 1997 which saw Australia miss the 1998 World Cup on away goals, again in front of a huge crowd of 98,000.
Muscat said the chief concern of any A-League matches on the ground should be the pitch, both for player safety reasons and to ensure a good spectacle.
"That always gets overlooked," he said.
"I'm not saying the MCG won't be right but that should be the first priority.
"We shouldn't be thinking 'we could get an extra 20,000 in' because that 20,000 that don't go to the game normally will go home disappointed and the entertainers go 'look what I had to work with'.
"The product is king.
"You can build the best restaurant and fill it out with all kinds of entertainment - people blowing fire out of their mouths and jugglers - but if the food's bad you don't go back to see the juggler."
Victory take on Melbourne City at Etihad Stadium in their first Melbourne derby of the season on Saturday, but expectations for a sellout crowd are lower than usual due to the Socceroos match at the same venue on Tuesday night.
City's emergence as an A-League force, including the arrival of Socceroo legend Tim Cahill, has only elevated the contest.
"It's the biggest one ever," Muscat said, "until the next one.
"They're great games regardless of which players are playing in them and the rivalry is just going to grow and grow and grow."