Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou has voiced his support for the A-League’s controversial new finals format.
Football Federation Australia have scrapped the two-legged major semi-final and the preliminary final and reduced the series from four weeks to three, a move critics say disadvantages the top two clubs.
Now the top-two clubs sit out the first week of the playoffs and wait to play the winner of third versus sixth and fourth versus fifth in the semis with the winners progressing to the grand final on April 21.
No stranger to A-League finals campaigns, Postecoglou said the shortened format added extra excitement because of the threat of elimination.
“In the past you could have an off day if you finished first or second and still get a second bite of the cherry but that doesn’t exist anymore which makes it more exciting for everyone,” Postecoglou said.
“It’s a little bit more cut and thrust this time around.”
He said the new system favoured teams equipped to handle the pressure of cut-throat finals football and believes the A-League’s biggest club Melbourne Victory fitted that category best.
Victory can consolidate third spot on the table when they meet Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Saturday, while it’s almost certain Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners will occupy first and second spot.
“Ultimately third spot gets us a home final (in the first week), which is a key one for us,” Postecoglou said.
“If you win that first final you are 90 minutes away from a grand final, regardless of who you are playing or where you are playing, you are pretty close to (making the grand final).”
Postecoglou said home-pitch advantage was reward enough for the top two sides.
“Being at home is significant. Finals have shown in the past that home teams do pretty well and for the top two to have home advantage is certainly significant.”
FFA has said it would review the system at the end of the season.