Victory look to make home statement

There's no place like home, and Melbourne Victory are hoping that a long overdue return to AAMI Park will spark a revival in the second half of the season that can catapult them into a top-two position on the A-League ladder.

Victory returned to their home venue on Saturday night for the pre-Christmas derby against Melbourne City, and ran out 1-0 winners.

Ostensibly that was an away game, but it was significant for being the first match Victory have played at AAMI all season - and the first time Victory have won in Melbourne in that time, having failed to sparkle at their alternative Etihad Stadium venue.

All of which points to Victory looking to make a statement of intent when they entertain the high-riding Newcastle Jets on Friday night at AAMI Park.

There will be extra spice in this game as the Jets are coached by former Victory boss Ernie Merrick, for whom there is not always a lot of love at his old stomping ground.

In addition, Victory will be looking to get a measure of revenge for the 4-1 thumping they suffered at the hands of the Jets when they last met in the Hunter Valley earlier this season, a game in which Kevin Muscat's side took an early lead but fell apart after Mark Milligan was dismissed in the first half, reducing them to 10 men.

According to Muscat, the heavy loss in the Hunter Valley will have "no relevance to tomorrow night's proceedings".

"It will be more about our execution, and how we go about things, making them stop us," Muscat said.

"We were rewarded late in the game (in the Derby), but we certainly felt we were rewarded for our performance," the Victory boss said on Thursday as he reflected on win over Melbourne City and the upcoming fixture against the Jets.

"But sport does that to you, you have to move on very quickly. Newcastle are sitting high up on the table so they will pose some different questions and problems for us, it's a really good challenge.

"Last week [against City] that first half, the way we came out of the blocks, the way we started, was outstanding. It was the same the week before in Brisbane [a 2-1 win].

One man who Victory will have to be particularly wary of is former winger Andrew Nabbout, who has rebooted his career in Newcastle.

"I am not surprised, he is having a decent season, he seems to be enjoying himself," Muscat said of a player whom he discarded. "They have certainly got some characteristics in their game which suit those attacking players in the front third but tomorrow night will be more about us and what we do."

Muscat says the recent Victory improvement came as a result of players and coaching staff asking each other some tough questions.

"The mindset has always been there, but I think we have improved in self-reflection, analysing ourselves. When the perception is that things are not going well, it's human nature to want to change everything, whether it's people themselves, formations, or structures.

"The hardest thing to do is analyse where you can do better. That's the approach we have had. We have got some very good leaders and a lot of experience in that team."

This story Victory look to make home statement first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.