They were once seen as the flagship of the A-League, the perfect example of a modern professional football club that dominated the early years of the competition by winning trophies and doing it in style.
By
Philip Micallef

Source:
SBS The World Game
7 Mar 2021 - 10:54 AM  UPDATED 7 Mar 2021 - 10:54 AM

Today Melbourne Victory are only a shadow of their former selves.

They are entrenched at the bottom of the league with a mere seven points from 10 matches and playing the kind of second-rate football that has turned their hordes of fans to despair.

Victory's 6-0 humiliation at the hands of crosstown rivals Melbourne City on Saturday will - make that should - go down as the tipping point for such a massive club, by Australian standards anyway.

How they manage this crisis will have serious ramifications on the club's future.

Questions are being pointed at the club's management that has seen director Richard Wilson quit the club after expressing dissatisfaction with the direction it has taken in recent times.

There are suggestions that the club board was never comfortable with the coach having the power to hire and fire players.

Their decision to appoint Drew Sherman as general manager last March is seen by some as a clear sign that they wanted to take the responsibility of recruitment away from the coach.

Which is probably why inexperienced Grant Brebner, who is a club legend after helping Victory win the premiership-championship double in 2007 and 2009 as a combative midfielder, was at first reluctant to take on the massive job of coaching such big club that expects to fight for the honours every season.

This could also be the reason former captain Kevin Muscat - a man who does not need to be told how to suck eggs - walked away from his coach contract nearly two years ago.

His resignation came a year after he led an ordinary Victory team to the championship thanks to a gritty and controversial 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets.

Yet, who knows, that championship may have been one of the worst things that could have happened to the club because it masked the overall weaknesses of the team that finished fourth in the premiership, no fewer than 23 points behind winners Sydney FC.

No way were Victory the best team in the league but results are what matter in the end and the flaws in the team may have been overlooked in the euphoria of the unlikely victory.

Subsequent events have shown that the few cracks in Victory's armoury have become a chasm that has led to this season's depressing spectacle.

Victory's trials and tribulations might also add substance to the growing movement behind promotion and relegation.

Without going into the merits as to whether Australian football is ready for two top divisions, it should be said that a club that regularly produces such poor football should not go unpunished.

The fact there is no relegation is probably the reason Victory do not feel the pressure of lifting their game to save their status other than that of appeasing their frustrated fans.

We know, I suppose, why big clubs such as Victory are against relegation, don't we?