A defensive crisis at the Melbourne Victory

Daniel Quinn Roar Rookie

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    Brisbane Roar’s 5-0 thumping of the Melbourne Victory on the weekend shows that Ange Postecoglou’s side have plenty of problems, not the least of which is defence.

    Postecoglou decided to move Matthew Foschini into the centre, joining Skipper Adrian Leijer as Mark Milligan was on Socceroos duties in Qatar, while Spase Dilevski came in at right fullback, as Adama Traore kept his place on the left.

    That back four struggled all evening to deal with a threatening Brisbane attack, failing to properly mark the Roar front three, while lacking the athletic pace to keep up with the likes of Besart Berisha and Ben Halloran.

    It was obvious Victory were missing a player of Milligan’s quality, a player who could play out from the back, while composing physical strength and aerial presence.

    Leijer didn’t have the best of games in the centre, frequently turning over the ball, while the 26-year-old didn’t have the speed and match fitness required to keep up with the Roar attack.

    Leijer’s partner, Foschini is not a central defender and has only played in the centre in a couple pre-season games.

    So why would Victory move a right-back into the centre when centre-backs Petar Franjic and Sam Gallagher are waiting in the wings?

    Simply Postecoglou doesn’t rate Franjic and Gallagher.

    Gallagher may have only just joined the Melbournians, but in fact he wasn’t even Postecoglou’s signing. Jim Magilton signed the former Central Coast Mariners defender in March, despite Magilton’s future being undetermined.

    Lucky for Postecoglou, Gallagher was only signed on a one-year deal.

    Magilton also signed Franjic to a new one-year deal in February. The former Melbourne Knights youngster simply doesn’t fit into Postecoglou’s game plan as the 20-year-old doesn’t have the pace and the passing game to play out from the back.

    Only a couple weeks before the season, Franjic and Gallagher were severely struggling in training, after they were beaten by their opposition and continuously fouled their opposing teammates.

    That forced strength and conditioning coach Peter Cklamovski to take the duo aside to work on some one-on-one training in attempt to improve the way the use their body, due to their lack of pace.

    Despite Franjic and Gallagher being selected in the initial squad to travel to Brisbane, they both stayed in Melbourne with Isaka Cernak and Julius Davies to train with the youth team, showing Postecoglou’s lack of faith in the duo.

    If Postecoglou could, Franjic and Gallagher wouldn’t be hanging around much longer. In fact, they could be on the way out during the season.

    This just confirms the media’s and the fans thoughts, that Victory are thin at the back and with Milligan likely to be involved in international games more often than not, Postecoglou needs to sure up that defence.

    The defensive duties don’t stop with the back four, the two central midfielders, Jimmy Jeggo and Jonathan Bru didn’t help out at all.

    Bru in fact barely touched the ball during the whole game, as Mitch Nichols, Erik Paartalu and Massimo Murdocca had fantastic games.

    Jeggo got stuck in with some strong challenges, which resulted in a yellow card, but at least the passion was there.

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • Roar Guru

      October 15th 2012 @ 7:34am
      TomC said | October 15th 2012 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      Yeah, I think its right to highlight the poor performances of Jeggo and Bru when assessing the Victory defence. The Roar found a lot of space in front of Melbourne’s back four. Never thought I’d say it, but the Victory missed Broxham.

      Thomas’ game was also a problem. Got beaten at the near post, failed to take out crosses, and continually made poor decisions coming off his line. His confidence looked totally shot, and it can affect the mentality of the whole team when the keeper is struggling. WIth Velaphi around, Postecoglou has a decision to make.

    • Roar Rookie

      October 15th 2012 @ 8:56am
      Daniel Quinn said | October 15th 2012 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      Yeah agreed. Like I wrote there are MANY problems including gk, but if I mentioned all would have taken a lot more space and plenty more of time.

      Tando in my eyes is much better in all areas except for playing out.

    • Roar Guru

      October 15th 2012 @ 11:04am
      Philip Coates said | October 15th 2012 @ 11:04am | ! Report

      Any Melbourne supporter would know that the defence and defensive midfield has been a looming problem for a few years now. The only player showing any spark in the back half is Traora who demonstrates an attacking element and some speed (albeit badly beaten by Halloran for pace) but he lacks a big engine, doesnt get back quickly enough from his forward runs and cant run out a full 90 minutes. Milligan is solid and the only player that we can rely on to perform ok over the course of the year.

      Ange brought in Bru as a defensive midfielder and is probably doubting his judgement as the kid didnt impress in pre-season matches and was missing in action against the Heart and the Roar.

      As you’ve pointed out Daniel, the rest of the defence Ange has inherited which begs three questions, (a) are they capable of playing A-League football at the highest level within any structure, (b) are they capable of playing the way Ange wants to play, and (c) if they cant play to Ange’s style should he modify the game plan to match the skill levels of the players at his disposal.

      Personally, I don’t think some of them cut it as potential championship players under any structure which tells me we are going to concede a few goals this year come what may. Whether Ange should continue with his game plan or concede he doesn’t have the players to execute it is the big question. In the short term he has no option but to push through with his style and give them more time and Victory supporters are just going to have to hold on for a bumpy ride.

      • Roar Rookie

        October 15th 2012 @ 12:39pm
        Daniel Quinn said | October 15th 2012 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

        Yeah completely agree with you there.

        Traore has been one of the better players in Victory’s two games, and does lack the engine like you mentioned, but was ripped a few too many times from Halloran.

    • October 15th 2012 @ 12:25pm
      Paul said | October 15th 2012 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

      Traore was caught out of position, Brisbane were always finding space in the same part of the field repeatedly for both halves.

      • Roar Rookie

        October 15th 2012 @ 12:40pm
        Daniel Quinn said | October 15th 2012 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

        Yes Paul, like Dilevski on the other side. But still with his pace and with ball at feet Traore is one of the better defenders with Milligan that Postecoglou has.

    • October 15th 2012 @ 7:41pm
      Ballymore said | October 15th 2012 @ 7:41pm | ! Report

      Are Ivan and Petar any relation?

    • October 16th 2012 @ 11:02am
      Sonia said | October 16th 2012 @ 11:02am | ! Report

      Melbourne clearly have a lot of work to do in all areas. It is easy to trash the back line but NO ONE is stepping up to do their job. Not strikers or mid fielders, making it very difficult for the defenders. I thought Foschini stood up well at centre back given it wasn’t his usual position, saving a goal at one point of the game. Really suits him to stay on the right and make runs up the park, given he is good at feeding the ball across to goal. Its going to be a long and bumpy season…

      • Roar Rookie

        October 16th 2012 @ 12:00pm
        Daniel Quinn said | October 16th 2012 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

        Interesting thoughts Sonia.

        Most don’t rate Foschini anywhere he plays, some even think he is just there because of Muscat.

        I think there are better fullbacks than Foschini and it wouldn’t surprise me if he leaves at the end of the season.

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