Joyce: Derbies are games to relish

A game to relish – a game to look forward to. That’s Warren Joyce’s view of Saturday’s Melbourne Derby, one of the blockbuster fixtures on the A-League calendar and City’s round two encounter against city rival Victory. The match will be Joyce’s first Melbourne derby, although the Englishman has had plenty of derby experience as a player and manager in the UK and Europe and knows how special matches of this type are.

“I think derbies all over the world are games to relish and look forward to, whether you’re a player or a coach, so everybody is looking forward to the game,” Joyce said on Friday afternoon at a joint media opportunity with his opposite number, Melbourne Victory’s Kevin Muscat.

Both coaches came together on the eve of the 23rd Melbourne Derby at the iconic Eureka Tower in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD to speak to the press and promote the encounter, which has so often captivated Melbourne since the inaugural derby in 2010.

A popular tourist destination which provides panoramic views of the city and Etihad Stadium – the venue for Saturday’s showdown – Eureka Tower was a new-look venue for pre-match media commitments, but gave Joyce the opportunity to take in the exceptional views of city he has called home since June this year, and provided the media with the perfect picture opportunity.

But first, keen to discuss the all-important derby topics, including player selection, Joyce answered questions from a strong press contingent on the Skydeck. The popular question? Whether national hero Tim Cahill would back up for City after his taxing 120-minute heroics for the Socceroos against Syria on Tuesday.

Wanting to avoid revealing team selection secrets with Muscat in his direct proximity, Joyce opted for a conservative answer.

“[I’m] not going to give the team away, but in preparing for the game this morning, [Tim’s] another player ready for action tomorrow.

“[He made a] tremendous effort to get back as early as he did, prepare properly and that’s the sign of a true professional and he’s been that throughout his whole career.

“I think he was the first to open the building [the City Football Academy, City’s training centre] up on [Wednesday], [he had a] quick flight back and was raring to go, which is good for the group. He’s in the squad for tomorrow.”

Following a 2-0 opening round win over Brisbane Roar, Joyce admitted it would be difficult to make wholesale changes to his squad, despite the spotlight on the fixture.  But he confirmed that two of City's foreigners, Scottish striker Ross McCormack and Polish midfielder Marcin Budzinski had made good progress on the training track over the past week.

“We were talking last week about consistency [from the players], consistency from myself as well and if you’re looking for players to train well every day and play well in the games and do what we’re asked to do there’s got to be some reward as well. That’s the demand put on the players all through pre-season and the same will continue this week and the coming weeks.

To be fair last week [Ross] got off a plane, not a great deal of training to get acclimatised with the jet lag and still he will get better with volume of work, volume of training and number of games so there’s more to come from Ross.

“Marcin, each day, each week that goes by he is getting a bit sharper in the legs… you can see he’s almost floating across the ground and looking fit and bright.”

While Victory poses a difficult opponent – particularly with the return of Mark Milligan, James Troisi and Kosta Barbarouses after international duty – Joyce said he didn’t have a special formula for Saturday night, and his direction to his players had been on ensuring good intensity, and ability to break down and hurt their opponent.

“Within football you’re always trying to break the opposition down, but they are always trying to stop you and then you’ve got to stop the opposition. However good you do either one determines whether you win the game really so this game is no different to any other game.

“It’s a derby game where everybody has got to be flat out and you’ve got to be up for the intensity from the [start]. So that’s the key thing I’m looking for.”