Kevin Muscat could be ready to get back into Lions' den at Millwall

WONDERS OF THE PYRAMID: Aussie hardman Kevin Muscat could step back into the Lions’ den at Millwall… the ‘dirtiest player in the land’ is making waves as a manager, so can he follow in Ange Postecoglou’s footsteps?

  • Kevin Muscat was often dubbed the ‘dirtiest footballer in the land’ as a player 
  • He is now mentioned in the same breath as Ange Postecoglou for his career path 
  • Muscat is a leading candidate for the Millwall job after Gary Rowett’s departure

You might recall Kevin Muscat the player — or at least his tough tackling. During 10 years at Crystal Palace, Wolves, Rangers and Millwall, the no-nonsense Australia defender was often dubbed the dirtiest footballer in the land.

In a rare case of one footballer suing another over a challenge on the pitch, former Charlton midfielder Matty Holmes was awarded £250,000 in the High Court after Muscat, then of Millwall, ended his career in 1998 with a horrific challenge.

‘That’s for f***ing Muscat, that,’ said Neil Warnock as his Sheffield United side beat Millwall after the Aussie had sparked a mass brawl. ‘I told (Muscat) to smash someone his own age,’ wrote Blades goalkeeper Paddy Kenny in his book The Gloves Are Off. 

‘He turned around to look at me and, out of nowhere, headbutted me.’ Warnock added later: ‘This is my 40th year in football, he’s the nastiest player I’ve ever come across. He would snap your legs off without even thinking.’

Peter Crouch told his podcast that Muscat was the only player who ever scared him. ‘People say, “I’m going to break your legs”, but when he would say it you genuinely believed him,’ he said. Striker Ian Wright branded the Aussie a ‘lowlife’ and a ‘nobody’.

Kevin Muscat was often dubbed ‘the dirtiest footballer in the land’ during his playing days (seen grabbing Liverpool’s Milan Baros)

Now Muscat is a leading candidate for the Millwall job after Gary Rowett’s departure

Muscat’s rap sheet could fill this entire column, with a ‘reputation’ section of his Wikipedia profile recalling ‘acts of brutality’, a career with 123 yellow cards and 12 reds, plus a Spanish website naming him the dirtiest player of all time, above ‘The Butcher of Bilbao’, Andoni Goikoetxea.

But we are here instead to talk about Muscat the manager. Park all ideas of his old-school style, because the 50-year-old says he now follows the Pep Guardiola school of thought.

Muscat is now mentioned in the same breath as Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou when it comes to his career path.

After being linked strongly with a return to Rangers after Mick Beale’s sacking last month, Muscat is now a leading candidate for the Millwall job following Gary Rowett’s departure a week ago.

Whether he takes over at the Den or not, he would be a good fit for a Championship side.

Muscat’s CV boasts an A-League title after replacing Postecoglou at Melbourne Victory, when the now Spurs boss took over the national team, plus an Australian Cup. He had a brief stint in Belgium before joining Yokohama F Marinos in Japan when Postecoglou left for Celtic.

The club is part of the City Football Group, who also own Manchester City and New York City FC, and have stakes in teams across 12 countries. In Yokohama, Muscat has won the J-League, the Japanese Super Cup and has them playing in the Asian Champions League.

‘The fire in my belly still burns, and I’m as eager and enthusiastic to win a game of football as I ever have been,’ he told The Guardian Australia in 2014, when he was at Melbourne Victory. ‘But as you take control, you realise you’ve got a responsibility to act in the right manner.

Muscat has followed a similar career path to Australian compatriot Ange Postecoglou, replacing the current Tottenham boss at Melbourne Victory

‘I’ve certainly worked out that when I’m calm I make better decisions. I do wear my heart on my sleeve, and finding that balance to be able to stay poised and in control is very important. I understand that interest (in my playing career) but I want to be judged on how my teams play.’

So, how do his teams play? ‘He has picked up Ange’s team and tried to evolve it to be very attack centric,’ said Japanese football expert Dan Orlowitz of the Japan Times. ‘He plays with that same style — all 11 players are attackers.’ 

Fans have compared his style to that of Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton, with a tactical fluidity and a bit of an unorthodox nature in the final third. ‘In the final third, it’s unpredictable — that’s where the style of play hurts a lot of opposition teams,’ said his assistant Ross Aloisi in an interview last month.

Muscat is currently the manager of Japanese side Yokohama F Marinos and has also previously coached in Belgium

‘He has had to adapt with losing a few key players. In his press, he will adapt to the opposition, but the playing style on the ball stays the same. Kev will adapt to what he’s got while playing the same brand of football.’

So while most will point to Muscat the ‘lowlife’ player, the Aussie as a manager is something else. Yes, he might still be scary if you go in at half-time after a shoddy performance but he could be the perfect fit for Millwall.

After the club’s four top-half finishes on a limited budget, eyebrows were raised when they parted with Rowett. But many fans thought it was the right way to go after a generally positive era. Now Muscat could be the perfect manager to take Millwall to the next level.

New date for abandoned match 

The EFL have confirmed the new date for Leyton Orient’s game against Lincoln, which was abandoned earlier this month in the 84th minute with Orient leading 1-0.

Fans went on to the pitch at Brisbane Road that night to bring attention to a medical emergency in the crowd but lifelong O’s fan Derek Reynolds, 74, sadly died.

It seems unfair that the fixture will be played from the first whistle on November 21. Not only were Orient winning, but the game being played again in full will be traumatic for family, friends and fans who knew Mr Reynolds.

Leyton Orient’s game against Lincoln has been given a new date after their original meeting was abandoned, as lifelong O’s fan Derek Reynolds sadly died at the age of 74

Fans sat on the pitch to bring attention to the medical emergency in the crowd earlier this month


Middlesbrough v Stoke City, Championship, Saturday at 3pm

This column called on Middlesbrough supremo Steve Gibson not to hit the panic button when his side were bottom of the table and winless after seven games.

The underlying numbers were positive and it seemed clear results would soon follow performances for Michael Carrick’s side. Since then, they have won six in a row.

Now Boro host Stoke, whose boss Alex Neil has taken the pressure off himself with two wins in a row.

Michael Carrick’s Middlesbrough side have turned around their fortunes after a poor start

Reading v Portsmouth, League One, Saturday at 3pm

Two clubs moving in opposite directions — but Portsmouth fans will be able to relate all too well to Reading’s woes. 

The Royals have been deducted a total of 16 points over recent years and are dangerously close to the relegation trapdoor. 

Ruben Selles’ men have just one win in their last nine league games, whereas leaders Pompey are unbeaten.

Mansfield v Walsall, League Two, Saturday at 3pm 

Joining Pompey as the only unbeaten sides in the EFL are Nigel Clough’s Mansfield, who have conceded just 11 goals, making them the stingiest side in the fourth tier.

After a couple of near-misses — they have finished seventh and eighth in the last two seasons — the Stags can make the leap to an automatic promotion spot.

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