Mehmet Durakovic is a tactical genius
Coach-bashing is in vogue at the moment. We all do it, we all enjoy doing it. Why you ask? Because we, sat on our collective rear-ends behind giant plasma televisions or in the cheap seats at football stadiums around the country, think we know better.
And to be fair, there have been instances when a nugget of insight has popped out of our mouths. Sadly though, they are drowned out in the downpour of snark that washes over the beleaguered few who invoke vitriol simply by being the called the coach.
The A-League has seen plenty of patsies over the years, regardless of whether they were successful. Ernie Merrick, two-time premiership coach, copped veritable streams from the Melbourne Victory faithful the second the club stopped winning.
Other notable players in the ongoing pantomime are Terry Butcher, Ron Smith and Frank Farina. And then, then there is poor old Mehmet Durakovic.
Criticism of ‘Mehm’ and the rest of the Victory coaching panel has been vociferous. My not-so-dulcet tones have been part of the chorus of criticising his ‘tactics’ and naivety. However, I’m also one to give credit when it’s due, so here are a few things that I think Mehm has done well.
1. Playing Carlos Hernandez deeper.
If ever there was a masterstroke, this was it. Victory’s portly yet mercurial playmaker has rediscovered his hunger (for the contest). His recent performances have been outstanding; the move deeper into central midfield has meant that he is more able to dictate play and find that killer pass, as well as drift into the final third unmarked. Sure, it’s not Total Football, but it’s working.
2. Not picking Harry.
The decision to not pick Harry for Victory’s ‘blockbuster’ against David Beckham and his band of merry men has been met with fierce criticism from elements of the media and fans alike. Billed as “When Harry met David”, the casual fan can be forgiven for wanting, nay needing, to see the A-League’s star attraction suiting up for Victory in what was a well marketed training drill.
Whether it was Mehm’s decision or not, (I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt on this one), resting Kewell for this game could be his best decision yet. A fresh Harry could tear an inept Adelaide United apart and relieve some of the pressure on the Victory coach. Kewell picking up an injury in a meaningless friendly would have been a terrible result.
3. The Solorzano affair.
Another of Mehmet’s strategic wins is playing Danny Allsopp instead of Solorzano. The one-time half of the deadly duo has been preferred up front to partner Archie Thompson over the rangy Costa Rican despite being completely ineffectual. I can only surmise that Mehmet is playing the age-old game of possum with the rest of the league.
By hiding one of last season’s top marksmen, keeping him fresh and hungry, he has an outrageous weapon he can unleash on unsuspecting defences in the second half of the season.
This tactical manoeuvre has given Durakovic the added bonus of deflecting fan vitriol from himself onto the hapless but hard-working Allsopp.
4. Dressing for success.
As all good and probably not-so-good motivational speakers will attest, you need to look the part in order to be the part. There’s nothing worse than seeing the coach of your team standing listless on the sidelines, looking like the common fan.
I contend to this day that Ernie Merrick’s inevitable decline came as a result of the polo shirt. Had he donned the snappy suit Mehm favours, he’d still be Victory coach and they’d be three-time champions.
So, with this mind, I wonder what other strokes of genius the misunderstood Mehmet has pulled off?
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