Are Victory fans patient enough for Postecoglou?

Jesse Wray-McCann Roar Rookie

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    The January transfer window will be a busy one for the Australian coach. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

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    Last week’s A-League opener not only exposed some of Melbourne Victory’s frailties, but it also revealed the club’s legion of fans may not be patient enough for Ange Postecoglou’s plans.

    The sounds of frustration, and perhaps even anger, from the blue half of the bumper crowd were inescapable in the final 30 minutes of the exciting match. As the Heart snuffed out each of Victory’s attacking raids, howls of discontent rained down at Etihad Stadium.

    Of course, being the Melbourne Derby, it was completely expected the Victory fans would be disappointed and annoyed with a loss to their brief but bitter rivals. These were emotions they became all too familiar with last season under Mehmet Durakovic and Jim Magilton. But the fact it all came flooding back in the very first game, in what was meant to be a very promising season, raises some questions.

    The Victory fans’ apparent lack of patience is twofold: patience within the course of a game, and patience over the course of a season.

    The most obvious tactical change Postecoglou has implemented with Victory is the preference to pass the ball out of defence rather than just lumping it long. It was one of the cornerstones of his successful system at Brisbane Roar and he has brought it south with him.

    Yet on Friday night many Victory fans were jeering this very tactic almost from the get-go, especially when young goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas and his defence exchanged short passes. “What on earth is this keeper doing?” and “Just get rid of it!” were phrases this contributor constantly overheard at the game.

    Unfortunately, the Victory fans seemingly didn’t see the benefit of such a tactic. Had they been as patient as the players themselves, they would have seen that the ploy aims to draw opposition players to the ball and create an open midfield to exploit.

    It also seems the disgruntled Victory fans did not, or were reluctant to, recognise the terrific impact John Aloisi’s own tactics had on the Victory’s frustrating performance. The Socceroo legend had his Heart charges harrying and pressuring their opponents to a level rarely seen in the A-League before.

    While the Victory have adopted a Barcelona-like passing game, the Heart countered it with a Barcelona-like pressing game. The first half-hour of the Derby saw the Heart follow something almost identical to the Catalans’ six-second pressing rule, in which they have six seconds to win the ball back.

    The effect of this was that the Victory players rarely had a free passing option or had little time to even spot one.

    It’s understandable the Victory fans want to see immediate success. After all, the club has recruited well, and no more so than with Postecoglou – a man who set a new benchmark for the quality of football in the A-League. The new Victory coach has also had an entire, and very lengthy, preseason to drill his system into the squad.

    Postecoglou clearly conveyed in his post-derby press conference that he expected his side to have adapted to the radical change of style. But in reality, even he must know a handful of preseason friendlies against Victorian Premier League and State League sides aren’t going to fully prepare the Victory for the cut and thrust of the A-League, and especially not a Melbourne Derby.

    Their style will settle over the next five rounds or so and it would be a surprise if Melbourne Victory aren’t still considered contenders at the end of the season.

    But will the Victory supporters, who have been brought up on a culture of success, have the patience to put up with any pain in the meantime?

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • October 12th 2012 @ 4:20am
      AVictory said | October 12th 2012 @ 4:20am | ! Report

      I had some people around me calling out in my bay. They are clueless and represent a minority. The majority of fans I’ve talked to have been in praise of Ange and expect the new style of football to takes a while to implement, everyone knows it took 9 months with the Roar, why should this be any different?

    • October 12th 2012 @ 7:56am
      Bondy. said | October 12th 2012 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      Postecoglou has pedigree who else has ?. I wouldnt necesarily be evaluating to strongly any HAL coach or team for a few weeks yet no patterns have occured, they the victory may run a consistent third all season.

    • October 12th 2012 @ 10:55am
      Ian said | October 12th 2012 @ 10:55am | ! Report

      well the second half of the 2010 season doesn’t count as ange took over mid way through so lets say it was 6 months. he had players there didn’t want and couldn’t dispose of them immediately.

      the defensive lapses must have been a concern for MV fans. but you would think over time they will improve unless there are issues with a couple of players on skill level. i’m not saying there is but that’s what would stop the system being implemented if it didn’t improve.

      of course calls for ‘get rid of it ‘(the ball) are ridiculous. its better to try and keep possession than just to get rid of it for the sake of it and risk losing possession with wayward passes.

      Jesse – well done on your article- i enjoyed reading it.

    • Roar Guru

      October 12th 2012 @ 10:57am
      TomC said | October 12th 2012 @ 10:57am | ! Report

      I share the author’s amazement at the Victory fans’ frustrations at losing the opening game of the season against their cross-town rivals. Can’t they see that there is a bigger picture here? Football games aren’t about winning. They’re about playing the right way. Ideally, as close to Barcelona as possible. And Victory fans need to understand that there is only one right way to play football. How dare they prefer other styles of games? Haven’t they been listening to Craig Foster? Don’t they realise that their two titles under Merrick were just flukes of good fortune, as opposed to Postecoglou’s two titles which were the outcome of patience and planning and brilliant expressions of total football?

      Postecoglou’s inspired tactic of trying to make Matt Foschini, Adama Traore, Adrian Leijer, Leigh Broxham and Laurence Thomas play like Barcelona could only have been countered by the devious John Aloisi making his own players play like Barcelona. There was so much Barcelona out on the pitch last Friday night I’m sure I heard the two coaches shout instructions to their players in Catalan.

      Yes, if there’s one thing holding back the Melbourne Victory it’s the fans. There’s just too many of them. If the rabble who don’t understand Postecoglou’s brilliant gameplan had gracefully decided not to show up, then the author and I would have been able to watch the match in the proper spirit: surrounded by a hundred or so like-minded fellows nodding approvingly every time Thomas passed the ball sideways to Foschini, and breaking into polite applause on the rare occasions the Victory moved the ball past the halfway line.

      • October 12th 2012 @ 12:33pm
        Damiano said | October 12th 2012 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

        Too many fans? What club ever felt too many fans would hold it back?

    • Roar Guru

      October 12th 2012 @ 11:05am
      Fussball ist unser leben said | October 12th 2012 @ 11:05am | ! Report

      The MVFC fans I know are not at all frustrated with Ange’s strategy. Just disappointed with the players’ ability to execute the strategy on Friday night.

      1 match over and only 26 matches to play … maybe there’s time to salvage something from this season?

      • Roar Guru

        October 12th 2012 @ 11:21am
        AndyRoo said | October 12th 2012 @ 11:21am | ! Report

        Always next year…

        But seriously if I was a victory fan I would be like a pig in ….well whatever pigs like to be in.

        Home town boy coaching a side who will play good football in time and who isn’t afraid to mix it with the media and give the fans a good story to read and talk about.

        • October 12th 2012 @ 1:31pm
          Roger said | October 12th 2012 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

          Yep, we’re loving it 🙂 Well, most of us anyway.

      • October 12th 2012 @ 1:45pm
        Bondy. said | October 12th 2012 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

        I hope phil coates is ok, I havent seen him around for a while.

        • Roar Guru

          October 12th 2012 @ 4:35pm
          Philip Coates said | October 12th 2012 @ 4:35pm | ! Report

          Hi Bondy, thanks for your concern. All is well. I’ve just had my head in my hands since Friday’s match and rendered speechless (actually I’ve been away and quite busy), but back now and will get back into the swing of things shortly. Cheers, Philip

    • October 12th 2012 @ 11:48am
      Nelson said | October 12th 2012 @ 11:48am | ! Report

      “Yet on Friday night many Victory fans were jeering this very tactic almost from the get-go, especially when young goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas and his defence exchanged short passes. “What on earth is this keeper doing?” and “Just get rid of it!” were phrases this contributor constantly overheard at the game.”

      Thomas and Leijer’s distribution was terribly slow and they were indecisive. We the fans know that we (the team) are going to be playing it out from the back, we just wanted them to do it quicker considering the press being implemented by the opposition.

      • Roar Guru

        October 12th 2012 @ 5:03pm
        Philip Coates said | October 12th 2012 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

        Nelson, you are dead right – it is all about the speed of distribution. Heart constantly pressed, often with three or four people attacking the player with the ball. The only solution is quick thinking and quick ball movement (no player can run as fast as the ball can travel) which would render those attacking players out of position, but our (Victory) ball movement was slow. This was especially true of Thomas who took so long to make his mind up when taking goal kicks or playing the ball out of defence, which let Heart man-up on each Victory defender putting them under pressure and causing mistakes.

        The game plan is fine, but it requires players who can pass the ball and it requires the ball to be in constant motion if you are being pressed in defence.

        I question if Leijer is up to it. He’s an old style ‘hoof’ player and his distribution has never been good. I think he should relinquish the captaincy so he can concentrate on his game. Foschini is also not capable in my opinion. That leaves us with a vulnerable defence (just the same as last year) trying to execute a more complex strategy than we employed last year. (Now I’m feeling depressed!)

        • October 12th 2012 @ 6:45pm
          Nathan of Perth said | October 12th 2012 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

          It’s also about not tripping as people pass to you.

          Or not passing so as to force massive momentum changes from the passee.

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