Melbourne Victory are a work in progress
Richard Garcia of Melbourne Heart takes a shot at goals against Archie Thompson of Melbourne Victory (AAP Image/Joe Castro)
The opening week of the A-League season certainly delivered an enticing entrée.
Crowds advanced through the turnstiles in record numbers, television ratings reached an all-time high and finally, there were many reasons for fans to feel a sense of optimism and excitement leading into version eight of Australia’s revamped domestic competition
While there were many issues to analyse and dissect, the one topic which really caught my eye was Melbourne Victory’s innovative game-structure, which didn’t exactly go to plan.
Ange Postecoglou, a back-to-back championship winning coach, got off to the worst possible start in his coaching tenure at new home Melbourne Victory – losing to cross-town rival Melbourne Heart by a solitary goal last weekend.
It certainly wasn’t the introduction Postecoglou had hoped for, especially with an impressive crowd of 42,000 present at Etihad Stadium. Following the match, the 47-year-old confessed to the media that there were no excuses for his side’s lacklustre showing.
Evidently frustrated, he reiterated that this season isn’t one in which the club will look to re-build its playing stocks.
“I was really disappointed we weren’t able to perform to the level we wanted,” Postecoglou told Fox Sports.
“We should have been there tonight. There’s no excuse for it. There’s nothing we’ve done that shouldn’t have prepared us for it.
“This is not a building process. Work has started and we need to be ready.”
As a spectator, it was evident how Postecoglou wanted his troops to play – a sophisticated football ethos which relies heavily on the team to play the ball out from the back, in conjunction with a high level of ball retention, and above all, patience in unlocking the opposition’s defensive barricade.
This game style definitely requires a great level of chemistry on the pitch, and importantly, time to prosper.
Time and time again, Victory attempted to play the ball out from the back, and in some instances could count their lucky stars for not conceding sloppy goals from defensive lapses.
Heart’s game-plan negated Victory’s brilliantly, pressing high up the park, not allowing rookie goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas or his teammates any time to settle on the ball to play out from the backline.
In this case, full credit must be given to boss John Aloisi, who was in charge of the red and whites for his first game as a professional senior coach. The players knew exactly how to unsettle their opponents, not allowing them to relax into any sort of rhythm from the opening whistle.
Victory’s new philosophy is undoubtedly a work-in-progress. Once the players feel comfortable and accustomed to the system, belief will be conveyed on the pitch, and visibly in their performances.
For this to happen, the Victory faithful may need to be patient. It could take half a season for the hard work to really pay dividends.
La Masia is FC Barcelona’s youth academy, renowned for producing some of the most talented footballers in the world, including the likes of Leo Messi, Andrés Iniesta and Xavi. Here, the players are taught from a very young age the principles that shape the club, on and off the pitch – from playing style, to discipline, respect and gamesmanship.
In Victory’s case, this new playing style is not only a new system, but an image the club is adopting.
While Victory doesn’t possess a youth academy as of yet, there is now a clear vision as to how the club aspires to play its football, from the youngsters, right through to senior level.
And while success may not be immediate, supporters can take some solace knowing that the club is in good hands under Postecoglou’s leadership.
Despite going down to the club’s inner-city rival – a bitter pill to swallow for the blue half of Melbourne – the panic button hasn’t been struck.
The result wasn’t what many had expected, but the glimpses of what Ange is trying to implement is giving a renewed sense of buoyancy toward the brigade of Victory supporters.
The test against reigning champions Brisbane Roar will be an intriguing affair this weekend, for more than the simple fact it’s Postecoglou’s first arrival back to his former home.
Victory will get to see first-hand how its new game-structure holds up, against an outfit widely renowned for being the benchmark in the competition.
Courtesy of Goal Weekly
Follow Robbie on Twitter @RobertDiFabio