2011/12 Review: Melbourne Victory
Change in position from 2010/11: ↓ 3
Win-draw-loss record: 6-11-10
(35 goals scored, 43 goals conceded)
Highest goalscorer: Carlos Hernandez (10)
Average attendance: 19,208
With all the pre-season hype surrounding the Victory, with Harry Kewell’s arrival and the formation of a ‘deadly’ forward structure, it’s fair to say that Victory fans’ hopes were high leading into week 1 against Sydney FC. But looking back, it was an underwhelming and unacceptable season from the biggest drawing club in the league. Since the departure of Ernie Merrick during last season’s Asian Champions League, Melbourne have headed downhill. Onto the third full-time manager in the space of a year, the Victory finished the season in 8th place, far below the expectations that the public and the media placed on them before the season started.
35 goals from such a potent and deep forward list ranked 7th among A-League teams for goals scored. 43 goals put the Victory ranked 2nd worst for goals conceded. And without Ante Covic in goals, Victory would clearly have been the worst defensive team (in terms of statistics) in the league. Putting statistics aside, the Victory most likely were the worst defensive setup in the league, always finding new and exciting ways to concede late on in matches and drop valuable points.
From their performances throughout 2011/12, it’s clear that the club needs refreshing, and a clean-out of an ageing list is required. If not, the 2012/13 season could be just as poor, and if not worse, for the blue half of Melbourne.
Most Valuable Player: Ante Covic. 24 appearances, 3 clean sheets
The statistics don’t really reflect how important Ante Covic was to Melbourne Victory’s season. 3 clean sheets from 24 appearances doesn’t seem like a great return, but looking back on his performances, you can safely say that the Victory’s season could’ve been much worse if not for Covic’s heroics between the posts. From round 1′s best-on-field performance, including a penalty save off Brett Emerton, it was clear that the Victory had made a shrewd signing, especially given how close to the start of the season he was brought on board (to replace the injured Tando Velaphi). At 36 years old, Covic still has a few good seasons ahead of him, but given he was only on a one-year contract, it remains to be seen whether the Victory keep Covic on board for the 2012/13 season. Based on his form this year, you’d have to say he warrants an extra season.
Rising Star: James Jeggo. 9 appearances, 1 goal, 1 booking
Although Jeggo only featured for the Victory in a third of their matches this season, his impact cannot be undersold. Under Durakovic, he played a grand total of 34 minutes. Under Magilton, he made 7 starts and played out the entire game in 5 of those. His tenacity and willingness to put in second efforts, and a strong passing game were the hallmarks of Jeggo’s game this season. His strong performance against the Phoenix in round 24 was the highlight of his season, capping off a great game with a right-footed thunderbolt to seal the three points for the Victory. With a clean-out and re-build imminent at the Victory before next season starts, you’d imagine Jeggo would be one of the first names added to the ‘keep’ column.
Most Underachieving Player: Adrian Leijer. 18 appearances, 8 bookings
It’s fair to say it was a pretty disappointing year for the Victory skipper. His undisciplined performance against Adelaide in week 2 of the season earned him his marching orders from referee Ben Williams, and it was the tip of the iceberg,as Leijer went on to give away countless fouls, and earn more and more bookings. His defensive form for the majority of the season was poor, illustrated in the Victory’s goal difference and his only one Team of the Week appearance (in week 6′s 0-0 draw with the Mariners). Whether the added pressure of being the captain was too much to handle, or whether it was just not his season, for a player as talented as Leijer is, he will be looking for a greatly improved 2012-13 season.
Most Underrated Player: Fabio. 23 appearances, 1 goal, 7 bookings
Fabio, surprisingly to some, managed to feature 6 times this year in our Team of the Week, which earned him a substitutes role in the Team of the Season. Many questioned whether he should be in that squad, but when you look back on his season, at times it’s easy to disagree. Wide defensive positions have typically been a weakness for the Victory in years gone by, and with Matthew Kemp out of favour, form and fitness, it was up to new signing Fabio to step up. His early season form was shaky, as he adapted to the speed and physicality of the A-League, but by mid-season he was a constant threat moving forward down the left wing, setting up goals, putting in crosses and making countless interceptions and tackles in defence. A maiden goal in week 17 against Sydney FC was a worthy crescendo for one of the most underrated players in the league this season. With Adama Traore coming to the Victory next season, talk has been rife that Fabio could be on the way out. With his form improving as the season went on, though, you’d have to think he, like Covic, would be added to the ‘keep’ column.
What do you think? Did we get our selections right? Have your say on Melbourne Victory’s season below…