Melbourne Victory’s ADP: The Unsung Hero

As a Victory fan, I find it hard to often agree with outgoing Adelaide United boss John Kosmina. Yet in a statement released with his resignation, he made some points that highlight the importance of what Ange Postecoglou, with the full backing from Anthony Di Pietro and the club, has implemented at Melbourne Victory.

“I simply cannot, and will not, work in an environment which otherwise lacks trust.”
“Apart from survival, I can see no clear direction. There is no vision. Decision-making at management level is reactive and impulsive at best, and there is no consistency in managerial procedure.”

Kosmina’s words will sting the club and more importantly its fans, who have suffered enough negligence from the hands of club chairman Greg Griffen. Red’s fans are seeing their active support starved out and are losing fans as a result.

Kosmina should be commended for his efforts this season, as much as it pains me to say it. Prior to this season’s start, many predicted Adelaide to struggle in the lower part of the table and perhaps, at best, fight for sixth spot. The Red’s came out firing and until last round, were in the top two all season. There is no doubt that Adelaide has a talented squad, so to see Kosmina quit at this stage of the season reflects horribly on the club’s culture. It also outlines the importance of full support from everyone who surrounds a manager.

I can’t recall a time where I have been so confident in Melbourne Victory, not just the team and its players, but in the club as a whole. The unsung hero for this confidence is Anthony Di Pietro, Victory’s chairman. Di Pietro was under enormous pressure after last season’s disastrous performance, with many fans calling for his resignation. I reluctantly admit to being one of those in that group. It felt as though the country’s biggest football club lacked direction and vision; the same words that Kosmina has echoed about Adelaide this week.

After Jim Magilton was not offered the manager role for this season, I had my doubts about the club and its administrators again, but it also provided a new chance for an overhaul of the club, one that was still stuck in the Merrick era, a full season after his departure.
Di Pietro had his eyes on one man and one man only, Ange Postecoglou. His record at Brisbane speaks for itself. Di Pietro threw everything at Ange to ensure his capture and once he was signed, Di Pietro made the bold decision that needed to be made. Postecoglou received the board’s complete backing and was made the number one man. He was given time to implement his system and structure and was given the funds for the players required.

Postecoglou started by cleaning out the dressing room. By the opening round of this season, ten players who were a part of the squad last season were gone, including marquee and fan favourites Harry Kewell and Carlos Hernandez. Marcos Flores was brought in along with many other players. The message was clear and the revolution was taking place.

Despite losing to Heart in the opening game and the whacking at the hands of Brisbane Roar, many Victory fans were understanding and patient, because they knew what was trying to be put into place. More importantly, the board made no knee-jerk reactions when the club suffered its biggest ever defeat. The fluid passing play that Ange was teaching was showing small glimpses. Progress was evident, albeit slowly.

Fast forward now to round 19. The club is in second and is in the best form many Victory supporters have ever seen. Many will find it hard to disagree that Victory are playing the best football it has ever played. They are fantastic to watch and are just as importantly getting the results. Postecoglou has a formation where many players can slide into the team to cover for absences. He has also revived the careers of those at Victory who had stalled.Marco Rojas, who was a figure in the shadows last season, has scored eleven goals and is currently the best player in the competition (I might be biased, but it’s hard to disagree). He doesn’t play as a striker, but as a winger, who alongside Archie Thompson on the other side, helps make up the most dangerous attacking combination in the A-League. Billy Celeski is now a key player and is showing the form that earned him a Socceroo call up. Leigh Broxham and Diogo Ferreira are now finding themselves in the side regularly also. The team now has an immeasurable quality too; belief. They have won two games with injury time winners against bitter rivals Sydney and Melbourne Heart.
Postecoglou’s philosophy is also based on long term success, not just for the short term. A youth academy is currently undergoing plans and Postecoglou has signed a bulk of young players from overseas, the A-League, from the VPL and from the youth team. Francesca Stella was brought in from Rangers, Jess Makarounas from Perth and promoted Luke O’Dea and Nick Ansell from the youth side. The most fascinating signing was perhaps that of Andrew Nabbout. He impressed Postecoglou in a friendly against Victory and earned himself a Youth Team contract. He was promoted into the senior side and wrote himself into Victory folklore against Sydney with two late goals to win the game.

Ange Postecoglou will rightly claim most of the credit for this season, but Anthony Di Pietro deserves much of it also. He made the tough decision and put everything behind the man he wanted. The club is reaping the benefits now and will continue to do so beyond this season. The future is very bright for the club. They will challenge for the title this season, as they will next season. Anthony Di Pietro has made all of this possible and showed real leadership that the club had been longing for over the last year.

Greg Griffen should have followed Di Pietro’s footsteps and thrown his full support behind a fully capable manager in Kosmina. Instead, the Reds, after such a positive start to the season, may find themselves in even more turmoil come the season’s end.

  • Boris Gligorevic

    Victory’s boardroom setting an example for other boards to follow. Let your football people do the business in training and on game day. The board should worry about administrative things, like sponsorship, brand development, etc.

  • mahonjt

    My thought exactly about ADP. Well said.