Melbourne Victory 15/16 Mid-Season Report Card

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It’s the time of the year when clubs look towards the second half of the season and The Football Sack critiques each club’s progress so far.

Do you agree with our assessments made in the return of our mid-season report cards?

Semester Summary: It’s been the old half season of two halves for the Victory. Coming off a season littered with excellence, the 2015/16 campaign started in similar fashion by lifting the FFA Cup and making a blistering start to the A-League with big wins over rivals Melbourne City and Sydney FC. Many pundits were tipping Kevin Muscat’s men to keep their new hobby of lifting trophies going until a run of five games without a win halted that, pushing the champions from table-toppers to sitting at around the bottom of the top-six.

A heavy fixture load and a seemingly never ending injury list may be legitimate reasons for the Victory’s tumble down the standings, however they are yet to replicate the form and swagger that defined their all-conquering season of last year.

Areas of Excellence: One advantage of having some big names confined to the medical room is the opportunity to blood youngsters into the first team. After guiding Victory’s youth side to promotion in a successful first season in the second-tier NPL Victoria, players such as Joey Katebian, George Howard, Kieran Dover, Dylan Murnane and Thomas Deng were rewarded with call-ups to the senior squad. They joined fellow youngsters and regular first-teamers Scott Galloway and Jason Geria. Deng in particular has been a standout in the Victory defence with the 18-year old performing better than his age would suggest. Victory will be without five of their best youngsters (Deng, Geria, Galloway, Connor Pain and Giancarlo Gallifuoco) in the coming weeks thanks to Olyroos commitments, further demonstrating the strength of their up-and-comers.

Areas in need of improvement: It’s pretty easy to say Victory need to be scoring more goals and concede less, but Victory need to score more and concede less. A goal difference of +2 is hardly anything to get excited about at this part of the season, given the sides at the pointy end of the table are currently on +10. During their lean run the goals dried up, with only two goals in fives games during that period. Even more alarming was the fact they went eight games without a clean sheet before the most recent win against Newcastle at the weekend.

Top Students: It’s hard to believe Gui Finkler could find another level to his efforts of past seasons but that is exactly what he was done before injury interrupted his season. With Mark Milligan leaving the club and Carl Valeri’s absence due to injury, Finkler has stepped up his game in midfield, highlighted by his two-goal effort against the Mariners in Round Seven. After missing the past two matches Finkler will be a welcome return to the Victory XI in the coming weeks.

Class Clowns: While there are a number of men sporting the big V who are yet to replicate the form of last season, Tunisian Fahid Ben Khalfallah is the one most glaring. Khalfallah shined in his maiden Hyundai A-League campaign but this year has looked disinterested at times, evident by his shocking miss against Perth just two weeks ago. The Victory faithful will be hoping his goal against the Jets at the weekend will be the catalyst to return to from for the man they call FBK.

Grade: B

Outlook: Victory may have both the talent and the experience to turn their season around and make a play at back-to-back titles, something that may be even further enhanced with incoming players during the transfer period, they do however have pretty big roadblocks ahead. Captain Valeri’s return date is still TBC, the following weeks will be a struggle with the Olyroos boys not available as well as the logistical nightmare that is the ACL group stage baring the potential to derail a finals assault. Things may just get worse before they get better.

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