End of 2021/22 season report card: Melbourne Victory

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Although a revamped Melbourne Victory squad fell short of ultimate glory this season, they can still hold their heads high after a dramatic resurgence back to finals relevance.

With Tony Popovic and co. looking to run it back next season for another tilt at the championship, let’s take a look at how their most recent campaign played out.

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Season Summary:

The new-look Victory squad took some time to gel together, starting the season with three wins, two losses and a draw, before suffering a five-game winless streak, including three consecutive losses, through January and February. However, a successful FFA Cup campaign, the club’s second in their history, seemed to be the turning point for the season.

Popovic’s men rattled off a 15-game unbeaten streak to finish off their regular season, which came in spite of injuries to key players including Rai Marchan and Matthew Spiranovic, while also having to play as many as three games in a seven-day span.

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Such a dominant run of form was enough to catapult them past all contenders on the ladder except rivals Melbourne City, finishing second on the ladder and earning themselves a first-week bye in the finals.

They couldn’t translate this form into the finals, however, as in spite of winning their semi-final first-leg against Western United 1-0, they ultimately lost 4-2 on aggregate.

Areas of Excellence: Defence

Victory’s defence was certainly in contention for the very best in the competition, as they allowed the fewest goals this season, conceding just 25, an average of less than one goal a match.

They had an extremely dependable and consistent back four, with full-backs Jason Geria and Jason Davidson missing a combined four matches, starting in every one of their appearances.

It’s tough to see how they could have been any better in that section of the ground, an area which Popovic has always prided himself on.

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Needs Improvement: Finishing

It’s tough to pinpoint one area where Victory could have dramatically improved, but finishing is probably the best option.

They were hugely reliant on the goalscoring of Nick D’Agostino, and to a lesser extent Jake Brimmer and Marco Rojas, to score the goals necessary to win games.

Other strikers such as Ben Folami, Nishan Velupillay, and most glaringly, Francesco Margiotta, failed to produce or convert a great deal of scoring opportunities.

While the aforementioned players were able to make up for this lack of production, there is certainly still room for Victory to further optimise their attack going forward.

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Star Student: Jake Brimmer

Who else could it really be? Brimmer had an unbelievable breakout season, scoring seven times and facilitating what seemed like every single successful foray into attack for Victory.

He was another consistent force week-in, week-out, and as a result was awarded two of the most prestigious awards in Australian men’s football.

The Mark Viduka medal, awarded to the best player afield in the FFA Cup Final, was shared between Brimmer and Mariners defender Kye Rowles, and Brimmer went one better at season’s end. He was awarded the Johnny Warren medal for best A-League Men’s player this season, a demonstration of his massive contribution.

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Class Clown: Ivan Kelava

Despite the fact that Victory was successful in protecting their goal this season, the big Croatian keeper wasn’t at his best this season.

There were numerous nervous moments throughout the season where Kelava came close to, or in fact did, give away a goal that really did not need to be given away.

At times, it looked as if his feet were cemented to the floor, as he was late to react, or seemingly unable to get to the spot that he needed to get to.

Fortunately, it didn’t hurt Victory too much this season, but going forward they might have to look elsewhere for their main man in goals, because he could prove the difference between them reaching the next stage or not.

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Grade: A-

Outlook:

Victory fans could not have asked for too much more from their team after the past few seasons. To turn this organisation back towards its former glory, even if they couldn’t go all the way, is a testament to both the team itself and their coach, and it’s the reason Popovic was deservingly awarded with Coach of the Year for the A-League Men’s competition.

The question now becomes, can they back it up, maybe even take it one step further? Or is this just a flash in the pan for the A-League Men’s most popular team?

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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