Melbourne Victory have finished at the bottom of the W-League ladder for the past two seasons. However bold off-season signings mean club will be optimistic that now is the time to turn their fortunes around in 2017/18.

Last Season:
W-League: 9th

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They’ll win the league because…
Who doesn’t love a fairytale? The Victory haven’t played in the finals series since the 2014 season where they finished second. But during that time Melbourne have been giving youngsters golden opportunities they would not have been afforded at other clubs.

The time spent building the young players coming through has increased the quality of depth in the overall squad for the coming season. The success of the long-term plan is highlighted by someone like Mindy Barbieri, who has already made 23 W-League appearances despite being only 17 years of age.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…
They are still in the rebuilding phase and with the club relatively young it would be a difficult proposition to see the Victory in finals action this season.

Last season’s bottom-placed finish also coincided with a leaky defence with Glory conceding 28 goals, just one fewer than Western Sydney Wanderers – the worst defensive team in the league. The new-look back four will have a big job to combat the top W-League clubs from last season.

Talk around the watercooler… Look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information.
New recruit Angela Beard finds herself working alongside head coach Jeff Hopkins once again with the pair knowing each other at Brisbane Roar before following the same path to the Victory.

Hopkins will know a lot about Beard’s prospects and will look forward to watching the 20-year-old develop her game further.

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The offseason brought…
A return of familiar faces. In a promising sign for the Victory key players have signed on to play for the club once more, instead of losing them to fellow opposition or overseas prospects.

Natasha Dowie, Laura Spiranovic and Gulcan Koca all bring the valuable leadership that the youngsters need.

At the same time Beard’s arrival from Brisbane sees a highly promising fullback join the struggling defensive ranks. While Casey Dumont joins from the Wanderers with over 50 games of experience in the W-League and will look to add a presence between the sticks.

Defender Laura Alleway last played for the Victory in their first season back in 2008, before spending time with Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City. Alleway now returns to Melbourne with 49 Matildas’ appearances and a total of 94 W-League appearances under he belt as one of the most experience defenders in the competition.

Add in 22-year-old American Christina Gibbons on loan from FC Kansas City in the National Women’s Soccer League and on paper the Victory defence looks a whole lot stronger.

Key player…
Gulcan Koca – She is about to play in her ninth season with the Victory and her performances will play a pivotal role in the club’s potential rise up the ladder.

She can provide guidance and a cool head for the youngsters coming through and boasts great versatility where she can plug holes when needed, either in midfield or any position in the back four. With 55 appearances for the Victory she will be a true leader on the pitch.

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One to watch…
Christina Gibbons – The loan signing will be part of a new look defensive set up but don’t be surprised to see her push through the midfield at times during the season.

Gibbons is mainly known as a fullback, but while at Kansas City she added has an extra dimension to her game and is more than capable of holding down any of the midfield spots when required.

At 22 years of age she already has caps for the United States U20 and U23 national teams and at the Victory she will be looking to make her mark on the W-League.

Full squad list…
Laura ALLEWAY, Melina AYRES, Mindy BARBIERI, Angela BEARD, Kyra COONEY-CROSS, Casey DUMONT (GK), Natasha DOWIE, Christina GIBBONS, Alexandra GUMMER, Gulcan KOCA, Annabel MARTIN, Bethany MASON-JONES (GK), Laura SPIRANOVIC.

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Liam Watson is currently completing Media and Communications at La Trobe University with a keen interest in sport, plus all the banter that goes with it.