Melbourne Victory striker Besart Berisha celebrates with teammate Marco Rojas after scoring against the Wanderers.
Melbourne Victory striker Besart Berisha celebrates with teammate Marco Rojas after scoring against the Wanderers. Jason McCawley

Berisha back with a bang

CRISIS. What crisis?

Anyone who thinks Besart Berisha is not the player he once was - think again.

The Albanian is back with a bang and is proving to his goalscoring rivals Bruno Fornaroli and Andy Keogh that he is up for the fight when it comes to the battle for the A-League's golden boot.

Some people were shouting from the rooftops that Berisha had gone off the boil.

Fornaroli's goalscoring exploits admittedly had pushed Berisha out of the limelight but you can't keep a good man down, it seems, and I was always of the opinion that the Melbourne Victory's marquee man would sooner or later start finding the back of the net again.

Berisha's drought, if you could call it that, lasted four rounds but his hat-trick against the Western Sydney Wanderers proved he is on his way back to his best form.

He might not be quite at the peak he was when at the Brisbane Roar or in his first season at the Victory but his finishing against the Wanderers showed he is getting his sharpness back.

There is no doubt Berisha is up there in the top three of the A-League's best players and his battling instincts will not allow Fornaroli, Keogh and co to keep him out of the spotlight for too long.

His record is superb and now he has a bit of confidence back he will prove a handful to any defence.

Berisha is now just one behind Archie Thompson as the A-League's record goalscorer.

Thompson scored 90 goals for the Victory, while Shane Smeltz and Berisha are on 89.

Berisha said he was thankful to coach Kevin Muscat for getting him through his rough patch but I am like the Victory coach, who said he had to smile about stories in the week that questioned his striker's output this campaign.

"He's set the standard in the last few years,” Muscat told Fox Sports.

"I had a nice little chuckle to myself this week when there were articles about him, because last week he was superb and against the Wanderers he finished off three great goals.”

One other person who will have a big smile on his face is David Gallop.

The Football Federation Australia chief executive should have one of the cheesiest grins imaginable when he thinks about this week's Melbourne derby.

Berisha's return to goalscoring form - he now has eight to lead the golden boot race by one from Fornaroli and Keogh - could not have come at a better time.

The FFA and A-League bosses would not have had to try too hard to sell the game between the Victory and Melbourne City at AAMI Park next week, especially as it is the week before Christmas.

But it will be disappointing not to see a capacity crowd on Saturday.

It has all the ingredients to be a Christmas cracker.

It's a derby, City won the first game 4-1 so Victory will want revenge, Fornaroli and Berisha will be going for bragging rights, and there is also a certain Tim Cahill who will want to star again just as he did in the first game.

What else could you ask for? Bring it on.



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