Victory prepare to face 'enemy' Cahill
Photo Source: AAP
Tim Cahill: Living legend. Role model. Inspiration. All-time leading Socceroos scorer.
There are many ways to describe the 36-year-old, who will make his A-League debut in Saturday night's Melbourne derby.
Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat has another one. Enemy.
Muscat welcomed Melbourne City recruit Cahill to the A-League but on the eve of the big match, declared the moment for plaudits to end.
He paved the way for Cahill's roasting by up to 40,000 Victory fans - in an expected crowd of over 45,000 - with a simple description that leaves no doubt as to the national team great's position in the eyes of the biggest club in the country.
"Enough's been said. Tim's been great for our code and our country but right here and now, he's the enemy," he said.
It's still a mystery how Melbourne City coach John van 't Schip plans to use Cahill, but on Friday the Dutchman suggested he could start the match despite an interrupted pre-season and international duty.
However long he plays, van 't Schip said he would leave a mark.
"The only thing we have to look at is to manage him to see how far he could come. That could be 90 minutes, 60 minutes, we just have to see," he said.
"I don't see the difference between him starting and coming in ... we are not worried about that, he will have an impact for sure."
The same goes for wherever he plays, with van 't Schip saying he and captain Bruno Fornaroli could manage their interplay to maximum effect as the match changes.
"We know he can play high up the pitch, around the striker, the same counts for Bruno," he said.
"We know Tim's most dangerous moments are in the box, but he has become a very intelligent and good player outside the box during his career."
Cahill's involvement is the cherry on top of the Melbourne derby, which has rarely failed to excite in 19 previous editions.
Muscat predicted a more attacking match that last week's Sydney derby, won 4-0 by Sydney FC in front of 61,880 fans.
The wily Victory boss said he was prepared for various ways Cahill could be deployed - but suggested a sole focus on the returning Socceroo would be folly.
"He's certainly in good enough condition so he's going to be a threat," he said.
"We think we've got a good understanding of who's going to play and how they're going to play.
"But we've got some serious threats going forward as well ... that's why I think it will be a more open game than last week."
STATS THAT MATTER
* Victory have won the last four Melbourne derbies at Etihad Stadium, scoring 14 goals in those fixtures.
* Besart Berisha has contributed six of those goals and is the fixture's all-time leading scorer with seven.
* The derby is one of the highest-scoring fixtures in the A-League, with an average of over 3 goals a game.