Melbourne Victory 2020/21 season preview

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The upcoming season is a chance for Melbourne Victory to bounce back from the horrific campaign of 2019/20. With the help of some classy signings, can this revamped squad return the club back to the top?

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Last Season:
A-League: 10th
Finals: N/A

They’ll win the league because…

Melbourne Victory never stay down for too long, so it is only natural to expect a ferocious response. By retaining one of the league’s best players – Marco Rojas, the club has secured a proven outlet for goals and creativity. In addition, with Robbie Kruse, Adama Traore and Leigh Broxham having tasted success with the Victory in the past, they’ll undoubtedly look to improve on last season’s showing.

The club’s ambitions have also been boosted by a new import duo – midfielder Jacob Butterfield and winger Callum McManaman – both signed from Luton Town of the English Championship. The two players are expected to bring a wealth of valuable experience, with McManaman spending seven seasons in the English Premier League with Wigan Athletic and West Bromwich Albion. With the addition of the high-profile signing of striker Rudy Gestede from Middlesbrough and the promising Ben Folami as his back-up, Victory expect to score plenty of goals this season.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

As with any rebuild, things can go very wrong. While in theory the key import signings are expected to generate an instant impact, there is always an element of unpredictability. The same can also be said about the young Australian centre-back Dylan Ryan (on loan from Willem II), who, as things stand, is expected to be the first-choice defensive partner to Nick Ansell.

Another question is once again regarding the fitness of Robbie Kruse. Throughout his career and upon his return to the Victory, the Socceroos regular has struggled to stay fit and has only managed 13 games last season. Yet in those matches Kruse chipped in with three goals and provided three assists as a reminder that Victory need him to be out on the park in order to get the most out of their season. If Kruse cannot get his body right, McManaman will need to take up more of a goal scoring burden than in the past, despite having scored only four goals in 23 matches last season for Luton.

Talk around the water cooler… look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information

Last time Melbourne Victory finished second last (in the 2005/06 season) they went on to win the league the following campaign.

The off season brought

A massive rebuild. Ola Toivonen’s departure left Victory with a massive hole to fill: finding a striker to match Ola’s record of 11 goal contributions in 18 A-League appearances last season was never an easy task, especially considering the effects of the pandemic. However, the club managed to land their man by the name of Rudy Gestede on a one-year deal.

Other notable departures of Andrew Nabbout, James Donachie and Lawrence Thomas were covered by the aforementioned McManaman, Ansell and Crocombe.

Key player

Rudy Gestede. The 32-year-old striker has an immense pedigree with 51 Premier League and 178 Championship appearances. Having scored 48 of his goals in the Championship, Rudy boasts a goal every 176 minutes in the second tier of English football and is bound to produce moments of brilliance in the A-League.

In the 2019/20 season, Gestede made 23 appearances for Middlesbrough and found the net twice, while also providing two more assists. With the immense crossing ability of McManaman shown in Victory’s ACL games in Qatar, the vision of Marco Rojas and the well-known football intelligence of Robbie Kruse, there is absolutely every reason to expect quality service and lots of goals from Rudy.

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One to watch

Jake Brimmer. This signing from Perth Glory largely went under the radar of most Victory fans, but the recent AFC Champions League games in Qatar showed just how valuable he is to the team. This is a massive credit to the composed character of the 22-year-old, which was on display during his crucial goals from the penalty spot against Chiangrai United and FC Seoul.

From a technical standpoint, his ability to read the play and move the ball forward are exceptional and will allow him to easily slot into the defensive and attacking midfield positions throughout the season. His ability to transition the ball from defence to attack is something Victory lacked all throughout last season. As a bonus, his sublime set-piece ability is likely to see him placed on the free-kick and corner duty, so keep an eye out on Brimmer’s assist numbers this season.

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Ins: Jake Brimmer (Perth Glory), Nick Ansell (Gyeongnam FC, South Korea), Dylan Ryan (Willem II, Netherlands), Max Crocombe (Brisbane Roar), Gianluca Iannucci (Melbourne City), Ben Folami (Ipswich Town U23, England), Jacob Butterfield (Luton Town, England), Callum McManaman (Luton Town, England), Rudy Gestede (Middlesbrough FC, England), Aaron Anderson (promoted), So Nishikawa (promoted), Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio (promoted), Lleyton Brooks (promoted)

Outs: Migjen Basha, Lawrence Thomas , James Donachie, Andrew Nabbout, Anthony Lesiotis, Matthew Sutton, Tim Hoogland, Josh Hope, Kenny Athiu, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Benjamin Carrigan

Full squad list:

Goalkeepers: Matt Acton, Max Crocombe

Defenders:  Nick Ansell, Dylan Ryan, Aaron Anderson, Adama Traore, Storm Roux, So Nishikawa

Midfielders: Leigh Broxham, Jay Barnett, Jacob Butterfield, Jake Brimmer, Brandon Lauton, Birkan Kirdar,

Forwards: Gianluca Iannucci, Robbie Kruse, Callum McManaman, Marco Rojas, Elvis Kamsoba, Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio, Lleyton Brooks, Rudy Gestede, Ben Folami

 

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Bogdan Vlasyuk
Bogdan Vlasyuk
Total football fanatic. Supporter of the Melbourne Victory and Dynamo Kyiv :)

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