A-League Men’s 2021/22 mid-season report card: Melbourne Victory

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We’ve reached the midway point of the season, so let us take a look at how the new-look Melbourne Victory is stacking up against the rest of the A-League Men’s competition for 2021/22 season.

Semester summary:

After two years languishing at the bottom of the ladder, Victory made a host of changes in both the coaching staff and in the playing group.

There was a tumultuous period involving multiple sacked interim coaches, before Victory eventually brought in hardened veteran Tony Popovic to take the helm. He brought with him a host of players from his previous club Perth Glory, with hopes of producing immediate results.

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And while it has not been a spectacular resurgence, the results have certainly been there.

Sitting in fifth place on the ladder, with five wins, three draws and four losses, not to mention an FFA Cup trophy to go along with it, Victory have plenty of reasons to be pleased with their progress. But, as always, there is plenty of room for improvement for a club that expects nothing short of excellence.

Areas of excellence

Defence.

Given Popovic’s reputation, it’s hardly a surprise that Victory’s defence has been first-rate. Their 15 goals conceded was good for third-fewest in the league, and most of that has been down to a quality back four. Jason Geria, making his return to the club after stints overseas and in Perth, has been immovable at right back.

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The combination of Brendan Hamill, Jason Davidson and the seemingly ageless and dependable Leigh Broxham have held down the rest of the back third. Captain Josh Brillante has also been exceptional in his defensive midfield role as well.

Needs improvement

Finishing.

With a solid defence, strong midfield, and quality playmaking through the likes of Jake Brimmer and Marco Rojas, what is holding Victory back from joining the other elite sides in the competition?

Simply put, they have lacked the polish and precision in front of goal that they will need to produce quality offensive performances consistently, and beat the best teams in the competition.

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Francesco Margiotta has been wayward in front of goal, sending a number of very clean chances well over the crossbar. While the likes of Nick D’Agostino, Ben Folami and Nishan Velupillay have shown promise and a great deal of confidence, they have lacked the polish and poise that will hopefully come with age and experience.

Top student

Jake Brimmer.

Brimmer has been a revelation this season. The class and sheer talent oozing from the attacking midfielder has been on display seemingly every time he goes near the ball.

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While he has not hit the scoreboard often himself, recording just one goal for the season so far, a fair chunk of the team’s goals can be credited in some way, shape or form to his vision, skill and pinpoint delivery.

With a Mark Viduka Medal under his belt, and an entire career ahead of him, look out for this guy for the rest of the year and beyond.

Needs improvement

Ivan Kelava.

The big Croatian is certainly amongst the most lively and vocal of the group, but his performances in the goals have left something to be desired.

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There have been a number of instances throughout the season where Kelava’s boots have seemed glued to the grass, and it has cost Victory a goal on a number of occasions.

Put simply, Victory’s success defensively has been in spite of, rather than because of, Kelava’s play, and it has prompted many to ask when Popovic might consider giving back-up keeper Matt Acton a run.

Grade: B

Outlook

While the club has not set the world on fire in its first ALM season as a revamped group, they have met expectations in almost every aspect of the game.

It appears that they might just be a few minor tweaks away from serious contention, and with plenty of season left to play, all options are on the cards for Tony Popovic and his men.

Feature Image Credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Mitchell Turner
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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