Portuguese signing Roderick Miranda believes that Melbourne Victory will continue improving as the season continues, insisting that despite a first round win against Western United, the team has identified some areas where they must improve.
While Victory’s travelling contingent of over 2500 fans were enamoured by Roderick’s debut for the club in Geelong – whereby the designated player broke the deadlock with a match-winning header – the team lacked cohesiveness in midfield and struggled to create meaningful chances in the final third.
Punctuated by the absence of captain Josh Brillante, Victory often resorted to long balls in order to bypass the opposition press with Spaniard Rai Marchán shouldering the brunt of the midfield duties.
For stand-in captain Roderick, the eventual win represented a positive despite the team’s overall performance.
“It was our first competitive game so of course we have a lot of things to get better even though we did a lot of games which is why we got the three points,” said the former Wolverhampton Wanderers defender.
When identifying the “not so good things” from last weekend’s game, Roderick was quick to mention the team’s sluggishness in possession which resulted in John Aloisi’s side owning the majority of the ball.
“In the first half we didn’t have too much of the ball – we need to have more of the ball and more control of the game,” said Roderick.
“But as I said, it was our first competitive game. I think [we had] seven new players in the team…so a lot of the concerns were normal in that game.”
A product of Benfica’s famed youth academy which has produced and nurtured the likes of Manchester City duo Bernardo Silva and Ruben Dias as well as Portuguese wonderkid João Félix in recent years, Roderick has plied his trade across Europe for clubs in England, Portugal and Turkey among other countries.
During this time, Roderick has built a wealth of experience in football’s top continent and was a key figure in Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolverhampton Wanderers side who were promoted from the Championship into the Premier League in 2017/18.
Thus, it may come as a surprise to see somebody of Roderick’s quality joining the A-League Men, particularly when considering that he is only 30 years old – an age often considered to be somewhere near the peak of a defender’s career.
While admitting that his original plan was to remain in Europe, Roderick explained that he had been convinced to come to Melbourne by the staff within the club who mapped out their vision.
“The main reason [for coming] was everyone inside, the staff, the coach, they started a conversation with me,” he explained.
“My mind was in Europe because of my family…but after I spoke [with Victory], everything started to be clear in my mind.
“I started to find a little bit more about the club, I found the history, I found that it’s the biggest club in Australia in fans…everything was exciting for me so that’s why in the end my decision was to come.”
Tasked with marshalling a defence which has been at the centre of Melbourne Victory’s malaise over the past two seasons, Roderick was imperious on capping off his winning goal with a well-earned clean sheet.
Aside from his defensive ability, Roderick also earned plaudits for his composure and temperament on the ball – an uncommon strength for a defender standing at 192cm tall.
When asked what fans can expect of him this season, the strong defender was swift to mention that his ability to help the team as a whole is at the forefront of his mind.
“I will do everything in my possibilities to help the team, that’s the most important, I will give my heart and I will do the maximum to help the team,” he acknowledged.
“If I need to score a goal, if I need to use my head to stop a goal, I’m here for Melbourne Victory, everybody in the locker room, so we are here to fight each game for the three points.”
With much of the rhetoric surrounding the A-League Men typically revolving around the league’s quality, it seemed as if Roderick was quietly impressed after his debut, hailing the speed and physicality of the game while drawing comparisons with his time in England.
“I think each league is different in each way but here I can compare little bit in terms of pace, in terms of needing to use your body a lot, how we do in England.
“It’s more a faster game, we don’t have much time to think…the first game was very good, our opponent was a very good team with good players and for sure the next one will be good as well.”
One of the central drawing cards of the A-League Men is the atmosphere created in the stands by the loyal fans of each club. Although Roderick had a taste of the intense noise created by Melbourne Victory fans during his first game in Geelong, he is looking forward to being met with a cacophony of noise at AAMI Park when the team plays their first home match of the season.
“I’m very excited, I hope that AAMI Park is buzzing because the support there [in Geelong] was unbelievable even though it was an away game,” he said with a grin.
“I think everyone is excited with the start of the new season, it will be our first game at home and hopefully this weekend the fans can come here and put [the team] on fire!”
Image Source: Melbourne Victory