Is there truly a crisis at Victory?

George K Roar Pro

By George K, George K is a Roar Pro

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52 Have your say

    The Victory have played 25.9 per cent of their season, with only one win, leading to Kevin Muscat hosing down suggestions of a crisis at the Melbourne-based club.

    Victory have not had the easiest start to the campaign, facing high-flying Sydney FC, crosstown rivals City, Adelaide, Western Sydney and Brisbane – consistently high-performing teams in recent memory.

    However, in such a small and well-balanced league (a side effect of the love-hate salary cap), Victory should be in a position that is representative of one of the most supported clubs in the A-League.

    Regardless, there appears to be a problem with consistency; one-week Victory can dismantle teams like Perth but in others must share the goods in the last few minutes, as shown against Brisbane.

    Perhaps their problems stem from the players? Their most recent premiership win, in the 2014-15 season, had a devastating strike force with leading goal scorer Besart Berisha (18 goals), Archie Thompson, Kosta Barbarouses and Fahid Ben Khalfallah.

    Even last season, despite losing Barbarouses and an ageing Thompson, the Victory still found goals in a reliable Berisha, James Troisi and Marco Rojas, and the club finished an admirable second place.

    Fast forward to today and we see the club continuing to invest well, with Leroy George proving to be a valued player, and Barbarouses being snatched back from Wellington. Berisha, too, is consistently on the score sheet.

    Yet the club has recorded the fewest goals (eight) in the league. Does this have anything to do with the calibre of opposition? Perhaps the past seven games have not been kind to the Victory but I raise the point that even consistently bottom-placed Newcastle are finding momentum to defeat Brisbane and Adelaide – teams Victory only drew to.

    While Melbourne still have quality players, so does the rest of the league, and many have been claiming that Muscat’s men are simply unable to cope with the increasing talent from City and Sydney.

    I would argue that Victory are simply not performing as well as they used to, due to a simple decline in player quality.

    Berisha is in decline in his 30s and Barbarouses is at his peak at 27 years of age. In addition, quality players from last season like Marco Rojas and Daniel Georgievski departing left Victory trying to break in new talent – a time-consuming and sometimes ineffective process.

    In addition, the team has a discipline problem, with Carl Valeri and Rhys Williams holding the most yellow cards for the season, while Berisha’s suspension and Mitch Austin’s red card are still fresh.

    Muscat may dismiss this as “referee consistency”, but so far Victory earn approximately three yellow cards per round, which is above average.

    Naturally, yellow cards alone do not contribute to poor performances – and credit to the Victory for holding out for a 1-1 draw with ten men – but too many fouls cause a drop in competitiveness as players receive their marching orders and are forced to play for the point rather than the win.

    Despite all this, it is still too early to want Muscat’s head.

    In the 2015-16 season, we saw Adelaide United go eight rounds without a win and then claim the double. United had drawn three games and lost four – in contrast to Victory’s four losses, two draws and sole win. This was also accomplished with a new coach and an entirely new playstyle implemented by Guillermo Amor.

    However, back-to-back titles could not be repeated, with United finishing ninth with only five recorded wins last season. This was due to a mass exodus of the 2015-16 squad, with Bruce Kamau, Bruce Dijite and Ruon Tongyik just a few who departed.

    Comparing the Reds to Victory’s current position, with quality players like Marco Rojas and Daniel Georgievski leaving, we can infer that should Victory not be able to establish form following their performance against Perth, we may see history repeat itself.

    So is there a crisis at Melbourne Victory? Not yet.

    By Round 9 – 33 per cent of the season having been played – the most appropriate course of action will be clearer in order to ensure the remaining 66 per cent is still salvageable.

    Without a solid start in anything – be it sport or life – then you will be playing catch up for as long as you can cope. While showing faith is fine and definitely encouraged, not thinking critically about the team’s faults, in the hopes that they will sort themselves out, is bluntly ineffective.

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    The Crowd Says (52)

    • November 21st 2017 @ 7:31am
      chris said | November 21st 2017 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      MV are not leaving themselves any room for any “mid season slump”. Still have a very good squad that has been disrupted with WC qualifiers. Should still make the top 4 but maybe only just.

      • Roar Pro

        November 21st 2017 @ 7:40am
        George K said | November 21st 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

        My thoughts exactly; no room for error and capitalise on any mistakes that sydney or city make.

        • November 21st 2017 @ 8:57am
          Waz said | November 21st 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

          Why City? They haven’t won in three games and three of their top stars are in revolt with the coach, 2 of them dropped for Friday’s vital game. If any club is approaching crisis it’s them

          • Roar Pro

            November 21st 2017 @ 9:17am
            George K said | November 21st 2017 @ 9:17am | ! Report

            City simply because it was one of the ‘top teams’ that came to mind when replying.

            I forgot about their lacklustre form as of late ?

    • November 21st 2017 @ 7:54am
      Nemesis said | November 21st 2017 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      MVFC has 3 fewer points after 7 matches than it did last season.

      Last season, MVFC had a mid season slump (lost 3 consecutive matches in Jan) & had an end of season slump (lost 3 out of the final 6 home & away matches).

      Does anyone recall, how did it turn out then?

      So far, MV has played 7 matches this season & along with WSW are the only teams not to have lost in the past 5 matches.

      City has 1 point from the last 3 games. When does this become a crisis?

      • November 21st 2017 @ 8:10am
        chris said | November 21st 2017 @ 8:10am | ! Report

        I guess the high standards that MV set for themselves has people asking “are they in crisis” so early in the piece.
        See it is a compliment : )

    • November 21st 2017 @ 7:56am
      Buddy said | November 21st 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      More the case of other clubs lifting their game although at the weekend there was daylight between MV and Glory in terms of structure and organization. I fully accept the injury list has a bearing but it is about squads, not just eleven players.

    • November 21st 2017 @ 8:25am
      Waz said | November 21st 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      As long as Berisha and Milligan stay fit Victory will always be in contention. Lose both of those and they might be on the edge of a crisis.

      But after 2 games, describing a team that has only lost two games as “in crisis” is quite frankly bizarre – if preseason on this site is characterised by pointless articles on expansion and how pro/rel might work, then early season is characterised by articles declaring early winners and losers. It’s just way too early for that.

      The only side that looks to have it all together at the moment is SFC who sit on top.

      All the rest have big question marks – Jets look promising but when SFC asked questions they were found wanting. City had a bolter start but now can’t buy a win now and their top stars look to be revolting. Wanderers can’t buy a win, Adelaide can’t convert, Glory can’t defend, Roar have no midfield, Mariners flatter to deceive, and Nix blow hot n cold.

      The sides that fix their issues will challenge, those that don’t will be down the bottom – who will be where remains to be seen.

      Someone summed it up the other day, “most sides look like they are still in preseason mode” which I agree with – can’t explain why this should occur in a professional league but that’s what it looks like.

      • Roar Pro

        November 21st 2017 @ 8:35am
        George K said | November 21st 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report


        Surely an early slump of not gaining the full 3 points would suggest problems in the side?

        I’m not saying Victory are in a crisis, I’m saying that unless action is taken soon to convert these lost opportunities into wins then it may negatively impact on them further.

        I guess this could also be applied to the other clubs still being in “preseason mode”; from my perspective victory are stuck in this more than other sides.

        Does this create a crisis? Admittedly no, but the article never said victory were just unless action is taken they could find themselves in a less than favourable position.

        • November 21st 2017 @ 8:57am
          Nemesis said | November 21st 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

          George, were you watching ALeague 12 months ago? What was your feeling after R7 last season, when Victory were

          W3 D1 L3
          GS: 14
          GC: 12

          Do you think if MV had 3 more points this season you would be suggesting they are likely to finish 2nd & lose the Grand Final on penalties? That’s what happened last season.

        • November 21st 2017 @ 8:59am
          Waz said | November 21st 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

          The biggest issue facing Victory is lack of squad depth going into the ACL in February.

          I think their results given the loss of key players to international duty over the first few rounds has been quite impressive to be honest

          • Roar Pro

            November 21st 2017 @ 9:16am
            George K said | November 21st 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

            Yeah fair enough;

            It’s interesting how the media like to blow information up when completely ignoring past results.

            Squad depth has most likely caused a dip in performance

            • Roar Pro

              November 21st 2017 @ 9:19am
              George K said | November 21st 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

              Although this is no excuse for a club with high standards like Victory.

              Victory’s form currently and last season forced them to play with no room for error.

              I feel that being placed in that situation a second time could cause unnecessary pressure on the squad.

              • November 21st 2017 @ 9:56am
                Nemesis said | November 21st 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

                Yes, I agree Victory are playing awful football this season. The Perth match showed glimpses of cohesive play, but not the highest level still.

                Having said that, last season was even worse. Victory was demolished by City in the opening derby. It was the most complete performance I’ve ever witnessed against Victory. Then in the FFA Cup Semi Final a few weeks later, City again easily beat Victory.

                But, the ALeague is a 7 month season.

                By April the following year, things had changed.

              • November 21st 2017 @ 9:57am
                Ian said | November 21st 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

                The ol’ Victory has higher standards than other clubs and their fans expect more than fans at other clubs.



              • Roar Pro

                November 21st 2017 @ 10:04am
                George K said | November 21st 2017 @ 10:04am | ! Report

                Ian, I only say this due to the high number of fans who likely are used to success and would like to see this happen again.

                Nem, yes the a-league is a long season. But what are your thoughts on the psychological impacts of having to play ‘do or die’ for the rest of the season so soon after last?

              • November 21st 2017 @ 10:47am
                Nemesis said | November 21st 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

                “Nem, yes the a-league is a long season. But what are your thoughts on the psychological impacts of having to play ‘do or die’ for the rest of the season so soon after last?”

                No problem at all. We only have to go back 12 month for evidence that MV recovered last season from 10 points from opening 7 matches, so 7 points from the opening 7 matches is only 1 less win.

                And, the benchmark for how to turn a season around is 2015/16 when AUFC had 3 points from 7 matches & won the Premiership and then the Championship.

                Relax. This season the teams are bunched up even closer than 2015/16. 2 consecutive wins pushes teams right up the table points.

              • November 21st 2017 @ 3:44pm
                Gavin R said | November 21st 2017 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

                If anything, Victory showed they have the character within the squad to perform with their backs to the wall. Perhaps it’ll get the best out of them? You’ve only got to scrape into the finals and find form in the back half of the season. A lot of sporting professionals in individual sports prime themselves for the big events as their body’s can’t sustain the elite level required year round. Teams go through slumps throughout the year but i can guarantee you, there are times during the season where they’re trained differently, harder etc etc to peak late on or different stages of the season.

    • November 21st 2017 @ 8:57am
      Kangajets said | November 21st 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

      Victory are among the 3 teams that I think cAn win the grand final
      Looking forward to Newcastle v Melbourne Victory this Thursday.

      • November 21st 2017 @ 11:51am
        Waz said | November 21st 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

        Huge test for Jets – lose again and they risk being also-rans

        • November 21st 2017 @ 1:09pm
          Kangajets said | November 21st 2017 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

          The negativity abt the jets . Why do they effect you so much and make you miserable.

          They could lose their next 3 games and still be in the running for a top 2 position. As a jets fan it’s good to look forward to game day for a change

          • November 21st 2017 @ 2:43pm
            Waz said | November 21st 2017 @ 2:43pm | ! Report


            Seeing Jets succeed is not a negative for me?? Quite the opposite, and I think that’s so for many A League fans as well with maybe the exception of CCM understandably- the misery you guys have endured through poor ownership is quite frankly disgraceful and no one can begrudge you fans some success.

            Losing to SFC is not a disaster, nor will losing to Victory and even City after that – but I want you to be contenders this season not pretenders. After Roar I don’t care who wins the thing, but I’ve a soft spot for Adelaide, WSW and Jets – so if we’re not good enough, I’m hoping one of you three will be, would be nice to see Jets go all the way tbh

            • November 21st 2017 @ 7:01pm
              TK said | November 21st 2017 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

              Cmon waz fess up. All roar fans despise the jets cos everytime the visit suncorp they go home with the points!!

    • November 21st 2017 @ 9:49am
      Mahler said | November 21st 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

      Barbarouses’ limitations were clearly on display in the All Whites game against Peru in Peru.

      • Roar Guru

        November 21st 2017 @ 1:46pm
        spruce moose said | November 21st 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

        Yup. Poor ball control, quite slow and which only then magnifies the height gap he has. Add his penchant to take a tumble and he was made to look thoroughly amateur against Peru.

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