Melbourne Victory’s board is digging its heels in over the future of besieged coach Grant Brebner, unwilling to sacrifice the Scotsman on the altar of the club’s disastrous opening 12 rounds to the A-League season.
Names such as Tony Popovic, John Aloisi and Ufuk Talay have been bandied about as potential replacements, as Brebner flails in the quicksand of seven defeats from eight games and last place on the ladder.
However, a source close to the Victory board - which itself has been suffering a supporter backlash over the club’s descent into the abyss - maintains rookie coach Brebner will be given more time. Very possibly until the end of the season.
A monthly board meeting scheduled for early next week will delve deeply into how badly the wheels have fallen off for the four-time champions, whose calamitous decline continued with last night’s 4-1 loss to Wellington.
The club’s directors will, it’s claimed, rally around chairman Anthony Di Pietro’s statement two weeks back when he told The Age: “We brought in Grant knowing he was a young, inexperienced coach and we are going to support him in every way we can to bring back success.”
Di Pietro added: “There will always be critics. But as a club we have been successful in the past and we know what is needed to recreate that success.”
It’s understood the Victory hierarchy are keen to avoid what one insider described as a “knee jerk reaction”, believing even an experienced European coach would struggle to elicit a winning reaction from a largely prosaic group of players.
Instead, they are looking to analyse and calmly consider all options, even at the risk of further alienating an already infuriated fan base.
The Midas touch Di Pietro eluded to had lost its lustre even before Kevin Muscat’s departure in mid-2019.
The short-lived reigns of Carlos Salvachua and Marco Kurz served only to confirm that.
A previously bullish board acknowledges this season is already a write-off and is already casting an eye further ahead, in the process giving Brebner breathing space to somehow resuscitate his lifeless team.
Poor recruitment is being blamed by the directors for the plight the club finds itself in.
Brebner has been front and centre of that along with CEO Trent Jacobs and football manager Drew Sherman.
Amidst the upheaval, it’s understood Wellington’s Talay - who turned the job down in the off-season - is now willing to take on the challenge
However, there seems little appetite to bring him on board now.
Recently sacked by Xanthi, Popovic is viewed as too likely to pack his bags at the earliest overseas opportunity and would hence not be targeted should Brebner and assistant Steve Kean finally run out of largesse.