Preview: Melbourne Victory
After playing the coaching merry-go-round last season, Melbourne Victory has finally got their man. Ange Postecoglou is arguably the best coach in the league, and turned Brisbane into a powerful outlet over the last two seasons. Many will expect him to work his magic at the league’s biggest club with immediate effect. It will take some time, but by the end of the season we will see a marked improvement from the boys in blue.
The recruitment of Flores and Milligan is a step in the right direction for the club, and much maligned striker Archie Thompson won’t have a year like last season. Expect Victory to be there or thereabouts when finals time comes around. Who knows – we could be in for an epic Melbourne/Sydney showdown on Grand Final day!
PREDICTION: 5th. Last year, not only did the Victory miss finals but they finished below cross town rivals Melbourne Heart. This year is about redemption, and a possible shot at finals glory.
BEST FINISH: Champions in 2006/07 & 2008/09
THE SIGNING: Mark Milligan should, and will, be an outstanding player in the league this season. Milligan has the tough job of holding the defence together without an established goalkeeper behind him. Most people will say Flores is the biggest signing of the off season, but Milligan is the more important.
THE LOSS: Remember that bloke who wore No.22 last season, you know the guy who was going to win every plaudit available and lead Victory to yet another title? In many ways Harry Kewell was a massive disappointment on the pitch last season, but his decision not to front up in 2012/13 (for understandable family reasons) leaves a bitter taste for most Victory fans.
THE STAR: Marcos Flores – welcome to Melbourne! The Argentine is sure to bring happiness to those Victory supporters who endured a very dour 2011/12 season. The former Adelaide player is sure to add more fuel to the Melbourne/Adelaide rivalry, and will have the attention of all A-League defenders.
THE X FACTOR: Archie Thompson will be the first to admit he wasn’t at his best last season, continually finding himself offside and out of form. The dream partnership of Kewell/Thompson didn’t eventuate, but I’m tipping the new partnership with Flores to blossom and put the Victory back into the playoffs.
OFF THE PITCH: The arrival of Ange Postecoglou is a big deal. The man who has lead Brisbane to back to back titles has turned his back on any chance of a ‘three-peat’, and made the move to Melbourne.
GOLDEN BOOT: Flores or Thompson, but I’m sure Victory fans aren’t too fussed who is scoring – just as long as the ball is finding the back of the net. Goals will be something the Victory will need with unreliable keeper Tando Velaphi or unproven Lawrence Thomas between the sticks.
THE MATCH: You could choose a handful of matches, but I’m loving the Australia Day blockbuster between our two biggest cities; Melbourne and Sydney. Unfortunately, Etihad Stadium may play host to the game if speculation is anything to go by.
THE START: You couldn’t ask for three more emotion filled matches to open the season. We start with a Melbourne Derby, and then the Victory visit Brisbane where Ange faces his former club – the reception will be icy to say the least! Victory then play host to their oldest rivals Adelaide, where Flores faces his former team. If you can’t get excited about the first three games of the season, you are a very hard person to please.