Melbourne Victory board to blame for missing fans
In all the press coverage last week about the Melbourne Victory versus Adelaide United match, one significant factor seemed to be overlooked: the Victory had one of its lowest attendance figures ever at Etihad Stadium for a blockbuster ‘arch rivalry’ match.
Several things that should have driven attendance upward were (a) the historical rivalry, (b) a Saturday night fixture, (c) Melbourne’s attacking stars – Kewell, Hernandez, Thompson, (d) a must-win game for both teams, and (e) a relatively strong advertising match by A-League standards.
The main aspect working to diminish the attendance was the promise of evening rain, but a Melbournian is familiar with Melbourne’s fickle weather and the stadium has a roof, so this shouldn’t have been a significant factor.
Melbourne Victory crowds aren’t usually fair-weather supporters like those of Sydney FC, so why only a shade over 16,000 for such an important match involving, far and away, the best attended team in the country versus their long-term arch-enemy?
The obvious initial answer is to be found in the football quality Victory serves up week after week.
Victory fans it seems are getting tired of Mehm’s, and lately Harry’s, constant pleadings that ‘things are getting better’, ‘we just need time to gel’, or ‘we were unlucky’. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”. And after Round 10 the Victory fans are not being fooled at all.
For a team with such promise, Victory has not only failed to deliver this year, they have gone backwards from last year’s performances. The squad, bar Harry, had the longest pre-season yet but fans are still fobbed off with excuses of the players ‘needing time to gel’. Harry is clearly a consummate professional and I would have thought three, four or five rounds might have been enough to find his way in the team, but by week 10 he’s still ‘needing time’.
Victory’s new signings – Rojas, Solorzano, Cernak – have been spectacularly underperforming or often, not playing. Taking the field is a squad regularly featuring the likes of Celeski, Pondeljak, Vargas, Allsopp and Brebner, who have been great servants for the club, deserve huge plaudits for their efforts, can win a match on their day, but, really, are all two or three seasons past their best work.
As a supporter looking on, I’m left wondering if there are cliques forming between groups of players. There certainly seems to be disharmony judging by Solorzano’s recent tweet about being ‘lied to’, and Rojas looking for the world like a young man on the verge of crying.
One thing is certain – when the ‘new’ doesn’t work, and the ‘old’ doesn’t work either, something is clearly wrong and I point the finger at the management.
While the obvious answer to the question of Saturday’s poor crowd is Victory’s recent poor performances, both of these issues are simply symptoms of a greater ill that besets the club.
Mehm’s fighting words last week that, “I’m the boss” are true to a point but like any underperforming business, it is up to the board to get to grips with the issues and put in place direction and structures that allow the business to succeed.
Until Victory fans hear some fighting words from the board, and some changes in either personnel or attitude at the club, it’s the board that should be held accountable for Saturday night’s lack of interest from their otherwise loyal and vocal fans.
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