The self-proclaimed biggest club in Australia has long had one of the strongest squads in the league, but this has not translated into silverware since 2009; far too long a wait as far as Melbourne Victory supporters are concerned.
The Victory have been given the extra bite many thought they had been missing by adding Albanian marksman Besart Berisha to their roster, so this year there really are no excuses for failure.
Manager Kevin Muscat is entering his second season in charge of the club and will be facing expectation from the outset to have the side humming on the pitch. In short, all the factors are in place for the Victory to be successful, but with that comes a fair amount of pressure.
Last Season: 4th
Fahid Ben Khalfallah (From Troyes)
Besart Berisha (From Brisbane Roar)
Matthieu Delpierre (From FC Utrecht)
Daniel Georgievski (From Steaua Bucharest)
Carl Valeri (From Ternana)
Pablo Contreras (Retired)
Jimmy Jeggo (Signed with Adelaide United)
Tom Rogic (Loan Expiry)
Francesco Stella (Released)
Adama Traore (Released)
James Troisi (Loan Expiry)
It has to be Berisha, who could potentially lift the Victory from also-rans to title winners. In recent seasons, the Albanian has been the most lethal striker in Australian football. Many have pondered whether the slick-passing Roar midfield behind him had much to do with his excellent goal-scoring record. Well, this season will go a long way to defining his A-League legacy.
What’s to like
As outlined above, this is a powerhouse club in terms of its playing roster, fanbase and budget. All the elements have to come together sooner or later and result in a title win. Berisha is not the only addition to give the side more bite; there is a quartet of signings from European football that should give the squad a massive influx of class and a great deal of extra depth.
What’s not to like
Muscat’s credentials are as yet unproven. He did a decent job last season of guiding the team to fourth place and a narrow semi-final loss to the Roar, but that won’t be good enough this time around. The former Socceroo may yet turn out to be a fine manager, but he doesn’t have the experience to match the likes of Graham Arnold or, seemingly, the tactical nous of a Mike Mulvey. It is also hard to see Berisha and Muscat, both renowned firebrands, going through the whole season without a single blow-up.
Predicted finish: 5th