"I had a couple of bottles of red, then a couple more, then I stayed awake all night.”
That was the response of Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou when he spoke of losing Harry Kewell earlier this week, and having been charged with rebuilding a team that failed in so many areas last season, Postecoglou might need to fill the cellar to the brim.
That’s right Victory fans; unless Ange the managerial magician can find some seriously talented midfielders it could be another season of being upstaged by the red-and-white army on Yarraside.
In the last month, Victory have gone from having arguably the most firepower in the Hyundai A-League, with Archie Thompson, Carlos Hernandez and Kewell, to looking like they need Danny Allsopp to turn back time to 2006, when he was scoring much more frequently and on the right side of 30.
Last season, Hernandez, Kewell and Thompson were the club’s top three scorers and despite Hernandez’s less than dignified departure, he was undeniably a star performer throughout his time at the club.
Arguably the best coach in the history of the competition, Postecoglou has rebuilt teams before, and Brisbane Roar in 2009 presented a bigger challenge than Melbourne Victory do now.
The main thrust of his redevelopment of Brisbane was a new philosophy and players that fitted his structure – and the acquisition of Thomas Broich didn’t hurt. But there aren’t too many Thomas Broichs - or Hernandezs or Kewells - going around.
Structure counts for little if a team lacks the necessary firepower to finish things off. Last season Gold Coast United played various structures well but they lacked that class player to really drive the midfield or create and finish goals. End result? They finished last.
What do Postecoglou and Victory have to do to avoid another season outside the top six?
Perhaps the likes of Isaka Cernak and James Jeggo, who have both shown a flair for the magnificent, will flourish under the new coach, who has shown he knows how to get the best from his players, and take the A-League by storm. It is more likely, however, that Victory will look to import talent, with Postecoglou admitting, “I don't think there'll be an easy local or Australian solution to the kind of player we need.”
If that’s the case, the first man he should be contacting is former Adelaide United midfielder Marcos Flores. The Argentinean’s name has swirled around since he became was released by Chinese Super League club Henan Jianye and the Reds have already said they can’t afford to take him back, but there are two clubs who should be on the phone– the newly created Western Sydney Wanderers FC and Victory, who should be at the front of the queue.
Flores has shown that he can not only score goals but be that driving force through the midfield that sets them up for his strikers, and Thompson is certainly a striker who knows how to take advantage of that.
While there are a plethora of footballers available, Postecoglou has to pick the right one when looking for his star and no other Aussie fits the mould.
Bottom line, if Postecoglou doesn’t get his man in Flores, those long nights might become a more common occurrence.
The views in this article are those of the author and not Football Federation Australia