A-League mid-season report card: Melbourne Victory

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We are at the halfway mark of the 2019/20 A-League season, so it’s about time The Football Sack takes a look at the performance of Melbourne Victory.

Semester summary: A draw in the round one derby was not the worst way to start the season but what was to follow left questions about Victory’s new look squad, including newly appointed head coach Marco Kurz.

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An away win against Brisbane Roar in round three was the last until five rounds later against Perth Glory. In round 14 Victory are pushing for a spot in the top six with a 4-3-5 result, only sitting seventh at the commencement of the round due to goal difference.

It was an inconsistent start, to say the least, with different parts of the side’s structure being doubted throughout the season.

Area of excellence: Kurz spent the off-season reshaping the defensive structure in the hope the backline would be successful in their positions. Even with Tim Hoogland in and out of the side with injury and Thomas Deng fulfilling international duties, the remaining defenders have worked well together to stop the oppositions forward line.

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With the potential to be sixth after round 14, the tight battle for positions five to nine on the ladder is just a little easier for Victory. They can thank defence and Lawrence Thomas for only conceding 15 goals this season. Only two more than table-toppers Sydney FC.

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Area in need of improvement: Whilst there has been some late turnaround, Victory still need to work on turning opportunities into goals.

Well, every club aims to do this but Victory occasion upon occasion have spent too much time relying on Ola Toivonen to score and waste the opportunity for another attacker to have a quicker, more efficient shot on goal.

Against Newcastle Jets in round 13, the forward line played a quicker style of football and played without hesitation to create a scoring chance. The difference was, there was no Toivonen.

Victory, by all means, need Toivonen but the side needs to work on creating scoring chances with all their forward line; Andrew Nabbout, Robbie Kruse and even Elvis Kamsoba.

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Nabbout and Kruse, in particular, have proven their capabilities to convert, with five goals between them. Their chance to continue scoring requires confidence amongst themselves.

Top student: Try to argue that Toivonen is not Victory’s top scoring student this season. Toivonen has dominated up front, as well as juggling his responsibilities of captaincy this season.

Toivonen has only missed one game due to receiving his fifth yellow card, but in the other 11 games has scored seven goals cementing himself as Victory’s leading goal scorer for the season and equal fourth in the league.

With talks of him wanting to head back home to Sweden, Victory should be doing whatever it can to try and keep their captain for as long as possible.

Class clown: It has been a season less than desirable for Kristijan Dobras. With only six starts under his name, he has not been able to reserve a regular spot in the side; whether it is the starting XI or as a substitute.

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He also received a controversial red card against Cameron Devlin when it was believed he made contact with the studs of his boot to Devlin’s face.

Grade: C

Outlook: Victory are showing promising signs that they are ready to turn around their second half of the season. From having defensive issues to a questionable attacking front line that had little time training together during pre-season have finally started to gel together.

The rest of the season will prove challenging with two encounters with Sydney as well as games against Melbourne City and Wellington Phoenix still to come.

If the club can work on converting genuine opportunities into goals, they may turn it all around.

Feature Image Credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Tricia Mifsud
Covering Melbourne Victory during the 2019/2020 season. Bachelor of Media and Communications (Sports Journalism) at Latrobe University. Dedicated to writing articles that sports fans want to read.