Rarely does a conversation about Melbourne Victory pass without a mention of Christine Nairn.
The American midfielder has played four out Victory’s past five campaigns. She has been a core leader and playmaker during the sides’ brightest times – most recently, the Premiership – and during the darkest hours – those two wooden spoons in the not-too-distant past.
2014 was Nairn’s first season and the most recent with a Victory finals appearance.
They lost on penalties to Canberra United in the semi-final, a fate they naturally wish to avoid repeating against Perth Glory come Sunday.
“Obviously we would love to win in regular time,” Nairn told The Women’s Game.
“But you have to talk about Perth and how they've done this season. They have goal-scorers in Alyssa Mautz, Rachel Hill and Sam Kerr, obviously, if you haven't heard her name before.
"They have three really good strikers and I think that they're going to be a tough team to play against and we need to bring our A-game.”
Victory have beaten Perth twice this season – first in round nine and again last week in round 14.
However, being a semi, Nairn predicted a more physical match between the two sides.
“You can see in our [last] game [against Perth] that it got a little bit physical, got a little bit chippy at the end," she said.
“That's just a regular season game so probably multiply that times ten and that's how it's going to be in finals. You know, it's who's going to be best on that day and it could be either team. It's just who's going to perform on that day.
“We're very confident. You know, we're here for a reason. We've performed game in and game out all season long… I think we're all kind of coming together at the right time and peaking at the right time.”
The two wins fit within a formidable, but by no means easy, season for Victory. Nairn nodded to coach Jeff Hopkins, who has been another key actor in Victory’s rebuild.
“We pulled out some ugly wins, I will say that,” Nairn admitted.
“And we pulled out some great wins and some surprising wins.
“I think Jeff has put a really good squad together that can kind of be adaptable to any situation. We can get down and play. We can bunker in and we can fight and I think that's the name of the game. It's just being adaptable and putting your chances away when you do get one.”
Victory will play Glory on Sunday 10th, at AAMI Park. Kick off 2pm AEDT.