Melbourne Victory 2021/22 Season Preview

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After a tumultuous past two seasons, are a new-look Melbourne Victory finally ready to contend once again?

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Last Season…

A-League: 12th
Finals: N/A

They’ll win the league because…

New manager Tony Popovic’s side has made some significant changes heading into a fresh season. The veteran coach, who also appeared in 421 professional matches in a 19-year playing career, is no stranger to the spotlight, and will take the mantle knowing full well the challenge facing him as he tries to turn this club around. Victory fans should be justified in believing that the new man in charge has all the right tools to foster a dramatic resurgence.

A big part of Popovic’s plan for his team going forward is to bring in players who have previously played under his system. The likes of Chris Ikonomidis, Nick D’Agostino, Matthew Spiranovic, Jason Davidson, Josh Brillante and Brendan Hamill are all new arrivals at the club who have experience playing for Popovic.

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They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

In spite of the new-look squad being built to create a sense of cohesion in the playing group early on, Victory have hardly been a model of consistency over the past couple of seasons.

Four managers in two seasons (including two caretakers) as well as a host of squad changes heading into this season will mean there are plenty of kinks to iron out in the early going. A whopping 10 new signings will be vying for a starting spot alongside the few players retained from last season.

This level of roster turnover will mean at the very least it will take some time for the squad to gel. In reality, there’s also a strong chance the side simply won’t come together as a cohesive unit, and Victory will once again find themselves languishing at the bottom of the table.

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

Last season was the first time Melbourne Victory finished bottom of the table since the A-League began in 2005. Their elimination in the Round of 32 of the FFA cup was also their worst ever finish in that competition.

The off-season brought

As mentioned previously, Victory have brought in six players who previously played for their new manager, while also making several other additions. The club will also welcome back defender Jason Geria, who spent six years at the club between 2012 and 2018, while another familiar face in Stefan Nigro will also be returning.

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Key Player

Robbie Kruse. The 14-year veteran returns for another season, having won the Victory medal in the 2020/21 campaign. With so much change happening around the club, and the weight of pressure and expectations mounting, you can expect the playing group to turn to a man who has seen it all.

Having played for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga, while also appearing for the Socceroos on no less than 75 occasions, Kruse certainly has the pedigree of a man ready to lead his side out of the doldrums.

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One to watch…

Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio will be looking to build on a promising start to his young career.

Having made four starts and totalled five appearances for Victory’s senior side, Lawrie-Lattanzio has already gained some experience playing at the highest level. He even managed to set up a pair of goals in his 327 minutes of action.

In the 2019/20 Y-League season, he found the back of the net on eight occasions in the same number of appearances, demonstrating that he has the potential to be a prolific goal-scorer in the senior team.

INS: Ivan Kelava (Xanthi), Jason Geria (Perth Glory), Jason Davidson (Ulsan Hyundai), Brendan Hamill (Western United), Matthew Spiranovic (Perth Glory), Stefan Nigro (Central Coast Mariners), Rai Marchan (FC Andorra), Josh Brillante (Xanthi), Chris Ikonomidis (Perth Glory), Nick D’Agostino (Perth Glory).

OUTS: Adama Traroé, So Nishikawa, Callum McManaman, Rudy Gestede, Elvis Kamsoba, Nick Ansell, Max Crocombe, Storm Roux, Jacob Butterfield, Dylan Ryan

Full Squad List

Goalkeepers: Matthew Acton, Marko Bulic, Ivan Kelava

Defenders: Aaron Anderson, Zaydan Bello, Jason Geria, Jason Davidson, Brendan Hamill, Matthew Spiranovic, Stefan Nigro

Midfielders: Jay Barnett, Jake Brimmer, Leigh Broxham, Birkan Kirdar, Brandon Lauton, William Wilson, Rai Marchan, Josh Brillante

Forwards: Lleyton Brooks, Ben Folami, Gianluca Iannucci, Aisen Ishak, Robbie Kruse, Luis Lawrence-Lattanzio, Marco Rojas, Nishan Velupillay, Nick D’Agostino, Chris Ikonomidis

Feature image credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Mitchell Turner
Third Year Undergraduate Arts Student at Monash University (Journalism Major). Generic sports tragic living out my failed dreams of going pro vicariously through other people.

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