Melbourne City's Fernando Brandan.
Melbourne City's Fernando Brandan. DEAN LEWINS

City coach admits Brandan will be public enemy No.1

MELBOURNE Victory coach Kevin Muscat has backed referee Jarred Gillett to ensure Melbourne derby spite night does not descend into fight night.

But Melbourne City counterpart John van't Schip, an advocate of beautiful football, demanded his players win the physical battle if they want to win the AAMI Park war.

Argentine firebrand Fernando Brandan's theatrics and City's perceived aggression have dominated A-League discussion, with City's coach conceding the attacker will be public enemy No.1 on Saturday night.

Muscat sent a veiled message to the referee ahead of the feisty, high-intensity encounter.

"The reality is that the aggression, the referee will be there to adjudicate that and you can only be as aggressive as the rules allow you to be,” he said.

"The referee will be there to police that and make sure that everything's fine from that perspective. I talk about aggression regularly, it's more about making sure you get to the ball first and making positive and aggressive decisions.

"It's not about the physicality of wanting to fight people.

"In relation to diving, if we look back now, the referees also review their games and no doubt they've earmarked and seen what everyone else has seen and make decisions accordingly based on the individuals. I think that's the way it should be.”

The round-two derby - which City won 4-1 - and the FFA Cup semi-final rematch 10 days later - which City won 2-0 - were spiteful affairs.

If Brandan is to be targeted by Victory players and fans, van't Schip backed his star to "play his game”.

But the Dutch coach did not shy away from the importance of City winning the physical battle.

"Playing football is not only about having the ball, it's also being physical,” van't Schip said.

"It's a contact sport, it's not futsal. You have to go for personal battles with your direct opponent, you have to win headers, you have to have a tackle.

"That's a big part of the game, that's why people love to watch because there's not only that ball playing, but there's also that fight on the pitch - who will come out in the end to have the ball.

"But we only want to do it in a fair way.”


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