Popovic, Muscat loom as Victory technical chief says ‘unrealistic’ to expect instant Brebner success


With the dual spectres of Tony Popovic and club favourite Kevin Muscat looming over under-fire rookie coach Grant Brebner, Melbourne Victory’s technical chief Drew Sherman insists expecting instant success from the Scotsman was always an “unrealistic” expectation.

Rooted to the foot of the A-League with a single win from seven matches - and derided by exiting shareholder Richard Wilson as a club heading in the wrong direction - home matches against Wellington Phoenix on Wednesday and Western United on Saturday could potentially shape Brebner’s destiny.

0ne of the Navy Blues’ key recruitment strategists, Sherman believes the four-time champions will “turn the corner” once they’re able to unleash their attacking foursome of Marco Rojas, Robbie Kruse, Rudy Gestede and Callum McManamam in unison.

And the club’s officially titled general manager of football claims any rush to judgement on Brebner would be premature.

“Grant understands better than anybody what this club is about, its great history and where it wants to be,” said Sherman of the player turned coach.

“Nobody at the club has played down the enormity of the path ahead of him.

“But for us to expect immediate results, given the context of all the challenges with Covid, the scheduling, travelling and the like, is perhaps unrealistic.

“Whilst we’d have hoped for that, there has to be a sense of understanding over the (magnitude) of the managerial changes we’ve undergone.

“You see that at the biggest clubs in the world: where there is change it takes time for results to come to fruition.

“Ultimate responsibility doesn’t just rest with Grant ... there are a lot of new people here and there’s been a lot of change.

“That’s where we’re at right now.”

Heaping pressure on Brebner is the fact that London-based Muscat is understood to be open to returning to the team he led to two titles as a coach, whilst Popovic will be looking to pick up the pieces after his shock axing by Xanthi.

Sherman views unfurling Victory’s front-third quartet as the answer to their woes, whilst admitting their dismal 12th spot on the ladder is not undeserved.

“We’re not creating quality chances but we haven’t had our four, on paper, strongest attacking players on the pitch at the same time, and that’s hurt us,” added the Welshman.

“We have to get these guys on the field together, and that’s very close to happening, to see whether that’s going to change things for us. I believe it will.

“We always talk about attacking, entertaining football and at the moment we’re not producing enough of a threat.”

With fans in rebellious mood and confidence seemingly mirroring sub-par performances, Victory have been left at the starting blocks. 

But Sherman says only in the 5-2 loss to Brisbane were they truly swamped, adding: “Other than that it’s been the odd goal or the odd mistake”.

He also defended a recruitment policy that has brought in visa signings McManaman, Ryan Shotton, Jacob Butterfield and Gestede plus locals Dylan Ryan and Jake Brimmer.

“I’m not sure I’d say that our recruitment hasn’t worked,” he said.

“I don’t think there will be many people who would say Ryan Shotton is not performing well, and Dylan Ryan hasn’t had good games,” he contended.

“I don’t think many people would say Jake Brimmer has been a disappointment and in the fleeting moments that Callum McManaman has played he hasn’t caused teams problems.

“Perhaps it’s a byproduct of recruitment from last year that we are now unfairly seeing some of these newer players tarred with that brush.”

Sherman doesn’t resile from the dire predicament which has gripped Australia’s best-supported club.

“You’re ultimately judged on results and right now we’re 12 in the league,” he said.

“Do we deserve to be there? Well, right now our performances would suggest we don’t deserve to be much higher.

“We haven’t produced consistent performances but are the players we have brought in causing us to lose games? I don’t think that’s the case.

“It’s still early days, it’s seven games in, and the belief is more consistent performances will come, and the club will turn the corner.”