Brisbane Roar boss Mike Mulvey has a simple reason for why his players will not think beyond Saturday night’s match against Melbourne Victory.
Three points at Suncorp Stadium will seal the premiership for the hosts but the Roar coach will not allow anything but performance to occupy the minds of the league leaders.
“Because there’s an orange shirt up for grabs next week,” Mulvey said.
“So you’ve got to go out and perform. Anybody that takes their eye off the ball right now will not be tolerated.”
If a nine-point buffer in first isn’t enough to keep the hosts calm in the presence of silverware they can rest easy in memory of their last meeting with Kevin Muscat’s side, a 3-0 away win in January.
“That was a thoroughbred performance last time, I must admit,” Mulvey said.
“That’s the standard we set ourselves with that performance and you should always have a standard you aim for.
“[But] it’s not about emulating that. This is about continuing our good home form which has been improved of late.”
Goalkeeper Michael Theo, a two-time championship winner with both Roar and Victory, acknowledged the grand nature of Saturday’s fixture.
“I suppose there’s that extra incentive for us if we do get the three points we obviously win the premiers’ plate,” he said.
“To hopefully win it in front of our home crowd would be a fantastic achievement but in saying that it’s all about building momentum for the finals.
“It’s going to be an exciting game for both teams.”
If Brisbane do claim a second regular season title it will make the occasion of Matt McKay’s 150th A-League appearance all the more special.
Mulvey was glowing in his assessment of the foundation player’s contribution to the club.
“He’s not the fanciest of players, he’s not going to beat two or three players in a dribble, he’s not going to score you 20 goals a season but he’ll be in the heart and soul of everything you’re trying to achieve,” the manager said.
“He enables us to play the way we want to play because he’s very good at one-touch, two-touch football. He can see things a lot quicker and a lot clearer than mere mortals.
“He’s so fit and so mobile I can see him playing for another five years … that’s another reason why I brought him back.
“We’ll be re-signing him at the appropriate time.”
Defenders Ivan Franjic and Jade North will again miss the match – Mulvey suggested the former is “probably two weeks away” – while Diogo Ferreira and Henrique will join the starting eleven.
Mulvey expressed hope the marquee match would generate a large home crowd.
“I encourage every Brisbane Roar fan to get out there and give us some fantastic support as they always do,” he said.
“We would like to think there’s going to be 20,000 plus at this game, because if we can’t get the fans at this game there’s something wrong.”