Milligan confirmed as Victory’s Aussie marquee

​Melbourne Victory’s chairman, coach and captain did not shy away from setting the bar high as they look to end a run of five seasons without a Hyundai A-League title.

Victory confirmed on Thursday that captain Mark Milligan is the club’s new Australian marquee, simultaneously extending his contract until the end of the 2016-17 season, while the Melbourne-based outfit also announced a new front-of-shirt sponsor – Community Training Initiatives.

Chairman Anthony Di Pietro declared the two deals show Victory are “hell-bent” on returning to the Hyundai A-League grand final for the first time since the 2009-10 season, while both Milligan and coach Kevin Muscat were bullish about the team’s chances of claiming silverware in the upcoming campaign.

Di Pietro told Goal that the addition of CTI to the front of Victory’s home shirt is part of a 10 per cent sponsorship increase since last season but at the earlier press conference, the chairman made it clear that kind of off-field success simply raises expectations on-field.

“It’s an exciting time at Melbourne Victory, we’ve come off two years where realistically we’ve been a kick or a whistle away from the grand final, so we’re hell-bent on taking the next step this season,” he said.

“And, of course, we want to achieve success in the FFA Cup as well.”

Victory have lost to the eventual A-League champions by just one goal in the semi-finals in the past two seasons but Milligan argued the arrival of international marquee Besart Berisha, plus Carl Valeri and Mathieu Delpierre, could make the difference in 2014-15.

“The last two seasons are painful endings for us and I think this off-season the boys that we’ve brought in are going to make a big difference,” the skipper said. 

“I think we’ve flown under the radar a bit so far and it’s been a little bit quiet from outside expectations and what not but we’ve made a couple of very good signings and I’m sure they’ll make a big difference.”

Muscat – Victory’s captain during their two double-winning campaigns in 2006-07 and 2008-09 – hinted that even a grand final appearance will not be enough.

“I’m certainly under no illusions what success looks like at this football club…there’s a serious determination to right the wrong of last season in the final game of both competitions [AFC Champions League and A-League],” the 41-year-old coach said.

“But there’s no point just speaking about that, actions determine whether you can achieve that. We’re well on the way.”

Di Pietro threw his full support behind both Muscat and Milligan to lead the club back to its glory days.

“We’ve been a successful club but we miss not being in the grand final the last two seasons, being so close and yet so far, so the expectations are high,” he said. 

“I was privileged enough to be down in the rooms with these two fellas after the last loss [against Brisbane Roar in last season’s semi-final] and I know what the feeling was and it was the beginning of the next phase of serious hunger. 

“We all have it and our coach and our captain lead the way.”

Melbourne Victory memberships for the upcoming Hyundai A-League season are now on sale! Click here for more information and to sign up today.