Last night saw the dawning of a new era for Melbourne Victory with Mehmet Durakovic becoming only the second manager to be in charge of the club during its relatively short history albeit only in a caretaker role. However, the changing of the guard did little to change our fortunes in Asia as we again lost, this time 2-1 to Jeju United. Not that there were many people there to actually see it take place.
The loss was a familiar tale, with a goal conceded from a set piece and the other late on. Although to be fair to our opponents they were the better side on the night and probably deserved to take all three points and thus condemning to an uphill battle to get out of the group stages of the competition for the first time in our history.
Considering that he had little more than three days in the job it was always going to be difficult for Durakovic to actually have any impact on our playing style or tactics. He did however give Isaka Cernak his first game for the Victory and the former North Queensland Fury player did more than enough to indicate that he will be a worthy addition to the team and with time his combinations with the likes of Archie Thompson will definitely improve.
Last night also saw a much slimmer looking Carlos Hernandez take to the field in the second half and unlike for most of last season his appearance on the field gave us the impetus in the midfield that we were lacking up until that stage. He came on as a replacement for fellow Costa Rican, Marvin Angulo but from my point of view it would be better for the team if both were out on the pitch together. I would have Tom Pondeljak make way for both of them to take their place in the Victory midfield.
Much of where it went wrong last night was when we actually got the possession we didn’t do that much with it. This was down to the fact that too often players were left isolated allowing two or three Jeju United players to quickly dispossess them and end any attacking foray. One prime example was when Danny Allsopp won the ball in midfield through his own industry and was then forced to head for the touchline because he was getting no support from his teammates.
Next up for the Victory is a visit to our sister city Tianjin to take on group leaders Tianjin Teda in what is now shaping up as a must win game. We of course have history with our opponents formerly meeting twice in what would appear to be the now defunct Lord Mayor’s Cup. Our last meeting resulted in a win on penalties. Let’s hope we can repeat that result come our next encounter.