Football clubs tend to go through different cycles throughout their existence, one thing is for certain though with the big clubs – the more money you have the likelihood of remaining successful is very high.
Dynasties don’t last forever though – a change of coach, players or even boardroom objectives can alter things in the blink of an eye.
Manchester United have struggled badly since their decade of dominance in the 90s while other giants like Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid are starting to feel the pinch of their massive player contracts.
In terms of the A-League though, the steady decline of one of the most powerful clubs; Melbourne Victory – has been hard to watch, even for fans of long-time arch rivals Adelaide United and Sydney FC.
For a club the size of victory to have finished second to bottom and last in the past two seasons has been an absolute disaster.
Poor decisions have cost players, coaches, boardroom members and fans memberships within this once great organisation – Victory needed a complete reset and there is no better coach in the A-League at rebuilding teams than Tony Popovic.
Popovic has had great success in the A-League with Perth Glory and Western Sydney Wanderers before leaving both posts under acrimonious terms.
The European sojourns to Greece and Turkey didn’t go as well as planned and Popovic is now back in the A-League in charge of one of the biggest clubs – who have supported him with a large budget to become a powerhouse once again.
Popovic has taken hardly any time in axing players from this victory team that wouldn’t fit into his coaching style.
Much like the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, Popovic started the Brexit at Melbourne Victory with releases for all the experienced players that came from the UK: Ryan Shotton, Rudy Gestede, Jacob Butterfield, Callum McManaman as well as coaches Grant Brebner and Steve Kean.
At the other end of the age scale – Victory fans have however been left scratching their heads as talented youngsters Dalibor Markovic, Elvis Kamsoba and So Nishikawa were also let go without a fight to keep them.
In terms of players coming in, Popovic hasn’t had it all going his way though.
Marquee offers to Matthew Leckie, Craig Goodwin and Thomar Hemed didn’t come to fruition forcing Popovich to go back to the well by signing players he’s previously coached before – as well as players looking for a career resurgence
The defence will be completely different from last season with the singings of consistent A-League player like Stefan Nigro, Mark Hamill, Jason Geria and the return to Australia of prodigal son Jason Davidson as well as the enigmatic Matthew Spiranovic – who has been enjoying the sun in Croatia for the past 18 months since being club less.
Central midfield has been bolstered with the return from Greece of Joshua Brillante and VISA player Rai Marchan.
Marchan might not be a name familiar to most fans, but for anyone that is serious about the Football Manager video game series – They will be aware of the bargains you can buy from Andorra.
The front third has been bolstered by a player Popovic knows very well, Chris Ikonomidis who is looking to regain his form once his injury woes are under control – however a marquee #9 position is yet to be filled.
The victory has been heavily linked all winter with Australian goal machine Nikita Rukavytsya who had recently been plundering goals for fun in Israel as well as ex-Premier League striker Wilfred Bony
Popovic’s off season recruitment drive is by no means over – as this A-League giant looks set to rise up from the ashes like a phoenix in search of an A League championship victory next season