Francis Awaritefe gone, but who is to blame at Melbourne Victory?
Melbourne Victory has ‘concluded’ their tenure with their Director of Football, Francis Awaritefe, after just four months into the gig.
The probable reason, although given as Awaritefe looking to return to Sydney, is far more likely to be related to Victory’s poor start and the Matthew Foschini red-card debacle.
There is no hiding from Victory’s terrible start to the season. The pre-season filled is with so much promise. Children were dancing in the streets when it was finally announced ‘our’ Harry had signed for the A-League’s biggest club.
The town was abuzz, spirits were high, the blue half of Melbourne dreamed of another championship. So what happened? Who is to blame?
Is it Francis? Four months is not a lot of time to put your imprint on a club. While it is true the Matthew Foschini appeal reeked of naivety, it isn’t the strongest of reasons to sack the ex NSL champion and SBS pundit.
How much of Victory’s poor start can be attributed to him? After all, he’s not out there coaching the players.
Is it the coach? What of the beleaguered Mehmet Durakovic? The bygone days of a polo-shirted Ernie Merrick standing expressionlessly on the touchline seem, at the moment, more preferable than watching Mehm lean forever forward in his plastic chair, perpetually facepalming himself while the incandescent Kevin Muscat paces like a barely restrained tiger.
Two questions come to mind; who is in charge and do they know what they’re doing?
We only ever see Muscat pointing and waving and shouting at the team. It’s Muscat’s voice we hear on the radio. Probably because poor old Mehm sounds lost and puzzled every time a microphone is thrust in front of him. So how much of the blame goes to these two?
The sexy football we were promised seems like one of those shimmering dream sequences in a bad sitcom. Ernie was given the chop for his pragmatic approach and reliance on individual brilliance. While limited, at least Ernie had a system and stuck to it. This can’t be said of the M&M combination.
Team selection and tactics have been baffling. The team hasn’t started with the same lineup in consecutive games yet and I shudder to think where Victory would be without Archie’s efforts. What was that I was saying about relying on star players?
Is it the players? While they are at the whims of the “tactical nous” of the coaching staff, they are still professional footballers and must understand the fundamentals of the game.
Basic positional sense, movement off the ball and the ability to pass the ball accurately to their teammates are things you’d expect from them and yet the players on the whole are falling woefully short in these areas.
There is a distinct lack of energy and the transition from defence to attack is reminiscent to the migratory efforts of a Galapagos Tortoise.
How much blame goes to Harry and co, who collectively, aside from Thompson and Covic, have been severely lacking?
So that leaves us with the board. How much of the blame falls on their shoulders? After all, they appointed Durakovic, Muscat and Awaritefe, they also gave new contracts to ageing and disappointing players like Tom Pondeljak and Billy Celeski.
Surely then, they are as much to blame as anyone else? Somehow, I don’t see them accepting any of it.
Clearly there are many underlying reasons for Victory’s poor performances so far and it will be a collective effort to turn it around. I wonder though, are they simply making a snap decision and picking a scapegoat or do they have a plan? Only time will tell but time is running out.