Melbourne Victory are on the hunt for their third manager in two seasons after Grant Brebner departed the club following the 7-0 derby loss on the weekend to Melbourne City.
If Saturday night’s encounter at AAMI Park was epic theatre, then one performer unquestionably took centre stage – Melbourne Victory’s hot-knife-through-butter, Fahid Ben Khalfallah.
Despite not scoring and earning a yellow card for dissent, his six shots, mazy runs and creation of opportunities for others meant he was arguably the game’s outstanding performer.
It was a much needed performance for a Victory side that had the creative Gui Finkler well shackled by Rostyn Griffiths, and Besart Berisha limited in his opportunities by a disciplined Perth defence.
By this stage of the season, the Tunisian’s story is well known. He arrived with much less fanfare than more celebrated signings such as Carl Valeri, Matthieu Delpierre and the aforementioned Berisha, but has turned out to be one the signings of the season not just for Victory, but the A-League.
Sure, he’s a fiery customer, but Victory’s most prominent live wire this season is their finals wildcard as Archie Thompson’s contributions fade to cameo roles, Kosta Barbarouses remains inconsistent (even if he has had a great last month) and teams figure out that Finkler can be shackled if you don’t allow him time on the ball.
The complaint on the pitch may be that he has only scored four goals for the season. But there’s a much bigger complaint off the pitch – why is he still unsigned?
Plenty of imports have found it hard to settle in the A-League in their first season, though that trend has started to fade as debutants like Marc Janko, Andy Keogh and Khalfallah have taken the league by storm. When you look at how players such as Thomas Broich, Berisha and Carlos Hernandez continued to improve as they stayed in Australia, imagine what they could do with a second season?
Kevin Muscat was quoted during the week as saying that Khalfallah wanted to stay in Australia, and that Victory wanted to keep him in navy blue. On current form, surely some A-League clubs are circling too.
So come on Melbourne – sign him up!