It has almost been five years since I last went on an away trip but when way back when the fixture was released I saw that Melbourne Victory were travelling north to play Sydney on my birthday I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself with the joys of the away game. And luckily for me what a game it turned out to be. In fact it turned out to be one of the best birthday presents ever.
Archive for the ‘melbourne victory’ Category
Having been away overseas for the first three weeks of the season last night provided me with my first opportunity to see the “newish looking” Melbourne Victory in action. The number of beverages that were consumed before and during the game precludes me from providing any detailed tactical analysis of the game and despite the result I was relatively pleased with what I saw.
If you have been living under a rock or in Canberra like myself* you may have not realised that Melbourne Victory was back in action for the 2012-13 as it played its first preseason friendly on Tuesday night against State League 1 side Port Melbourne Sharks. A match which they won 2-1.
It was of course Ange Postecoglou’s first game in charge and with expectations high it was interesting to follow from afar the comments of fans as to how they were playing under the tutelage of the former Queensland Brisbane Roar manager. Overall it appears that there was much to be pleased about and at this early stage it is already a marked improvement on the debacle that was last season. Of course you get those who expect us to be already playing like Barcelona or at the very least like Brisbane Roar of the last two seasons. But with such a high turnover from last season and a lot of new faces expecting instant result is just plain ludicrous. It would be like myself playing a few hands on OnlinePoker.com and then thinking I could match it in a high stakes tournament. In fact I would be surprised if the Victory were to be playing the style Ange wants consistently by the middle of the season.
With new recruit Marcos Flores yet to arrive in the country due to visa issues much attention was focused on new recruits Guilherme Finkler and Jonathan Bru and by all accounts their unofficial debuts were impressive with the Brazilian Finkler picking up the opening goal. Of course the arrival of Flores is much anticipated, especially by myself as it will go a long way to filling the void in both my heart and the hearts of many Victory fans left by the departure of Carlos Hernandez. It will also mean that I won’t feel so guilty about salivating over an opposition player as I did during Flores’ time at Adelaide United. It will be interesting to see how he fits into Ange’s system and in fact I look forward to seeing what Ange’s system actually looks like whether it be in the flesh or on the television, which is more likely the case.
The Port Melbourne match was the first in a series of five friendlies against VPL and State League opposition over the next five weeks and I will be looking forward to hearing how the team progresses towards the start of the new season and for those actually attend those games it would be good to hear some feedback first hand in boring lonely ol’ Canberra (aka the place without an A-League side).
* - I actually knew the game was on.
With the FFA releasing the fixture for the 2012-13 season it’s time for my annual look at the highlights/lowlights of the draw from a Melbourne Victory point of view.
- Finally Melbourne Victory get to play two home games against Melbourne Heart. Both of which are to be played at Etihad Stadium, which is a tiny bit of a disappointment. The first of these derbies takes place in the first round of the season and is a good way to kick off the season’s festivities.
- There is an away game in Sydney on my birthday which brings the very distinct possibility of a road trip - the first for at least five seasons. Speaking of road trips it is good to see that Adelaide finally gets to host us in two of our three encounters. That’s a road trip I have always wanted to do.
- It is good to see that the Australia Day match against the aforementioned Sydney has been maintained although in my opinion it should alternate from city to city every season.
- There should be some cracking crowds for the first three Victory games as they firstly host Heart, then travel north for Ange’s return to Suncorp Stadium and then a return for our only home game against Adelaide.
Thank you Tom Pondeljak for all your efforts in Melbourne Victory colours. Especially that goal in the 2008-09 Grand Final. A true professional.
So who would have thought that it would take twenty-one matches for someone to realise the key to Melbourne Victory’s success would be a functional midfield. Who would have thought? How much do they pay these people?
Way back in October not long after the season had started even I could see that the problem with the Victory’s lack of early season success was down to a massive hole in midfield. That hole resulted in a disconnection between the attacking members of the team and those mainly tasked with doing defensive duties. Up until the weekend under Jim Magilton’s reign we had seen that gaping hole still there which resulted in countless long balls hoofed up to our five foot nothing forwards only to be cleared predictably by their opponents. In the derby it resulted in Kristian Sarkies having so much time on the ball that he was actually able to hit a pass to a teammate and not an opposition player. It resulted in some of the most dire football that I have even seen from the Victory, even worse than some of the crap dished up in our first season.1
So disheartened by the derby performance last week I was about to write a diatribe on why Magilton wasn’t the man for the Melbourne Victory job in the long term but time constraints and suitable lack of inspiration and swear words meant that I only wrote about one hundred words before Friday night’s kickoff. In many ways I am glad that I didn’t write that diatribe because Friday night’s performance gave me a glimmer of hope that I thought may have already been killed off. In light of that I will reserve my judgement on the Northern Irishman (or Scotsman if you read Australia’s most popular newspaper as voted by themselves) until the end of season.
So what was actually different from the previous twenty matches that allowed the team to play what appeared to be a functional and vaguely entertaining brand of football with a midfield that actually worked against the Central Coast Mariners. Well after some pretty dire football in the last couple of weeks Magilton actually decided to do something different. Recent loan signing Mark Milligan was moved to the centre of midfield from the centre of defence, a change brought about mostly by the recent signing (to the end of the season I think) of Spanish defender Ubay Luzardo, played his first game in the blue and white on Friday night. Paired with Milligan was Jimmy Jeggo (whose very name conjures up images of millions of swooning Korean girls - don’t google that by the way), who picked up his first ever start. This midfield combination was in stark contrast to the previous combination of Broxham and Brebner as it was more mobile and could actual provide that much need link between defence and attack. In other words it provided some fluidity to the Melbourne midfield. Up ahead from right to left were Marco Rojas, Carlos Hernandez (who made a much needed return to the starting XI) and Harry Kewell. These three played behind Archie Thompson, who reprised his role as the lone striker. Some may have called it a 4-4-1-1 formation but I prefer to call it a 4-2-3-1 formation as illustrated below. But no matter what you call it, the main thing was that it actually worked.
So there you have it a functional midfield which gave us a team that played liked a team and not a collection of individuals and instantly things look a bit better on the pitch. Let’s hope that continues this week against Brisbane Roar and we don’t again resort to old habits.
After last week’s Australia Day match against Sydney FC I had intended to ride my bike home but unfortunately on my way to the game my back tyre had gone completely flat so instead of riding home I had to walk my bike to Flinders Street Station in order to get home. Whilst the same thought may have occurred if I had been in the saddle but as I pushed my bike alongside the Yarra River with thousands of other fans I came to the conclusion that it was time to call it quits on Melbourne Victory’s season.
Whilst many would think that with nine matches to go in the season that this a big call but let me clarify what calling it quits means for me. After experiencing another match where the team again threw away a lead I decided that after all the troubles that this season has entailed that I have decided withdraw my emotional attachment from the team for the rest of the season. I will still go to games and still watch them when they play interstate but it will be more from the stand point of a supportive observer rather than a full-on fan with the result being of no consequence. This is mainly due to the fact that I believe nothing will come of this season - a season at its beginning promised so much but in the end won’t probably even deliver a finals appearance.
However, it must be added that this role of a supportive observer is null and void for the upcoming Melbourne Derby.
So there we have it. Jim Magilton’s first game in charge of Melbourne Victory. We may all have been hoping for a first up win but unfortunately Adelaide United didn’t get the message and the match ended 1-1 in what was must be said was a very cliched match of two halves.
For those expecting dramatic changes in his first game would have been sadly disappointed as the starting line-up was pretty much the same the played the weekend before against Newcastle with the only change being the inclusion of Adrian Leijer for Petar Franjic, which was hardly a suprising move. What was interesting was Magilton’s use of the bench with Jean Carlos Solorzano, Diogo Ferreira and the aforementioned Franjic being his substitutes. For someone who is probably used to having a larger bench it was interesting that for his substitutes he went for a striker, midfielder and a defender along with the mandatory goalkeeper. It was a fairly conservative choice and I’m sure we will see a different bench once he gets used to having only a four man bench.
As I alluded to in my opening it was a game of two halves as the Victory shot out of blocks at the start of their game as has been their want of late and save for the efforts of Eugene Galekovic, the woodwork and some poor finishing the home team could well have been more than a goal up come the half time whistle. Kewell continued his recent renaissance out of the left and it was his early match trickery that not only set up the first goal but also created a plethora of other chances that unfortunately weren’t converted. He combined well on in the left hand-side with Fabio, who had his best game for the club although apart from a few blemishes has been pretty consistent throughout the season. It wasn’t all just Kewell in that early match dominance with Hernandez, Thompson and Allsopp all looking dangerous.
However as been the case through most of the season the team couldn’t put a whole match together as Adelaide fought their way back into the match and dominated much of the second half, save for a few chances for the Victory. Whilst the first half was full of free-flowing football the second half was in stark contrast as we resorted to long hopeful balls to the forwards as the connection between defence to midfield and beyond seemed to disappear. After a pleasing first half it was a little disappointing to see the team resort to type in the second half as the opposition stepped up their game and for most of the time looked bereft of ideas.
There is obviously plenty of work for Magilton to do in the coming weeks but his first up effort obviously displeased Australia’s self-proclaimed football oracle No. 1 Barcelona fan, Craig Foster who had probably been saving this piece up all week. This prompted a misguided twitter response from Robbie Slater, who is personal friend of Magilton which in turn prompted this well-written response by Mike Tuckerman on The Roar which pretty much summed up the thoughts of most level-headed football supporters who have a dose of reality unlike the aforementioned Foster and Slater.
It might be drawing a bit of a long straw but tonight marks a new era in the life and times of Melbourne Victory with Northern Ireland’s Jim Magilton taking charge of his first match of the club against Adelaide United. Appointed as an interim manager in the lead up to last week’s match against Newcastle it will certainly a baptism of fire against one of our fiercest rivals in a must win match.
Magilton’s appointment marked the end of the dysfunctional managerial tenure of Mehmet Durakovic that saw the team only win three matches out of fourteen matches. One has to feel a little sorry for Durakovic, who has been a great servant to Australian football, with much blame for his appointment has to put at the feet of Anthony Di Pietro and his fellow board members. They took the easy option after a supposed “worldwide” search for someone to replace Ernie Merrick by appointing the inexperienced Durakovic to a position that in all honesty was too big for this stage of his coaching career. Not helping matters for Durakovic was having Kevin Muscat by his side, who whether it being intentional or not appeared to be undermining the man in charge. Hopefully for Durakovic’s sake he can pick himself up and we’ll see him in a coaching role somewhere else in the A-League.
Magilton has only been appointed as interim manager to the end of the season, with the remaining twelve matches of the regular season being a test as to whether the Northern Irishman is a good fit for the club and vice versa. Coming off their poor decision to appoint Durakovic this move to only appoint his replacement for the remainder of the season at this stage is a good one and we will look forward to see how it pans out and whether our poor season can be turned around. It certainly has fans talking and excited again nonetheless.
As 2011 draws to its conclusion it’s time again to take a look at the year that was for the Melbourne Victory. It was a year full on drama with an extended off-season break providing plenty of talking points off the pitch whilst the action on the field hasn’t quite hit the high notes that everyone was hoping for at its beginning.
High point of the Year
Both on an off the pitch there has been very few highs as far the Victory are concerned but during the extended off season the launch of the Melbourne Victory kit by adidas and it’s accompanying launch video was one of my high points of the season. It’s just a pity that what has happened on the pitch hasn’t quite matched it.
Low point of the Year
Going out of the finals in the first week for the first ever time was a fairly low point but nothing matches the handling of the dismissal of Ernie Merrick after one ACL match. New chairman Anthony di Pietro’s handling of the whole scenario was nothing short of unprofessional and as I wrote as such at the time for Australian FourFourTwo: “Sacking a manager is a difficult thing but when you announce such a decision how about showing some conviction in the action that you are taking. You looked about convincing as me trying to pass myself off as a football player.”
Game of the Year
Whilst it may not have been exactly pretty the 2-2 draw against Brisbane Roar with only nine men has to be my match of the year. Never have I been at a game where the crowd has got so behind the team as they frustrated the then unbeaten Roar like no team had done before. It was one of those games that should have kick started the season but unfortunately it wasn’t to be as we have spluttered on.
Goal of the Year
There hasn’t been too many highlights in this department this year but it would have to be a toss up between Archie Thompson’s second goal for Brisbane Roar earlier this season or Diogo Ferreira’s almost perfect volley against Wellington Phoenix a couple of weeks ago. However for pure individual brilliance it has to be Thompson’s effort as he not only bamboozled the defender but also former team mate Michael Theoklitos to give Melbourne Victory a 2-1 lead with only ten men.
Signing of the Year
This is pretty much a no contest as nothing comes close to the signing of Harry Kewell. While he is yet to deliver on the pitch Kewell has well and truly delivered off the pitch with two crowds of around 40,000 for our first two home games generating plenty of publicity.
Coaching decision of the Year
2011 definitely wasn’t a year of game changing coaching decisions but whoever was responsible for the signing of Ante Covic on the eve of the first game of the season has to get some credit. Time and time again the giant keeper has come to the rescue of the team and without him we would be a much worse position that we already are at the moment.
Best favour from an opposition player
There hasn’t been too many of these this year but Brett Emerton’s penalty in the first match of the season that was saved by Ante Covic has to be this best favour from an opposition player for the year. If we had a lost that one we probably would have been in a slightly worse position than we already are at the moment.