Former Melbourne Victory keeper Ante Covic fears the confidence-crushed A-League giants are in danger of imploding even further, because every match "feels like groundhog day".
Covic knows all about adversity after Victory chewed up and spat out Mehmet Durakovic and Jim Magilton, and missed the finals, during his 13 months at the club a decade ago.
But the former Socceroo has been taken aback at how deeply the A-League’s self-proclaimed biggest club have descended into a black hole this season, under the auspices of a rookie coach, inexperienced football recruitment department and a disunited board.
Six defeats from their last seven have sent Navy Blue fans stir crazy over the prospect of a first ever wooden spoon, and ladled unprecedented scrutiny on the ailing club.
With Victory four points adrift at the foot of the table after Saturday night’s 3-1 home loss to Adelaide, Covic told The World Game: “There’s clearly a set of circumstances there which have unbalanced the entire club.
“When things don’t go your way for a period of time, each game becomes like groundhog day... things get worse and just start to implode.
“In football, things can go bad quite quickly - you saw that at Central Coast over recent years (this season excluded) when you get to a certain place where you just expect bad things to happen.
“And that’s exactly where Melbourne Victory are on the field at the moment.
“I don’t think they necessarily have a bad squad... it’s just that this is how the season has gone for them so far.”
Covic, who went on to help Western Sydney Wanderers win the AFC Champions League after exiting Victory, believes the battles facing them are as much mental as tactical.
“When you’re a player it sometimes feels like everything is snowballing,” he added.
“It gets you down and you feel like absolutely nothing is going for you.
“Things can still turn around because it’s a more even competition this season.
“But it’s going to be difficult because you’ve got a new coach in Grant Brebner and he’s learning.
“He has to somehow find a way of instilling some confidence, and getting the players to pick up mentally and believe in what he’s trying to achieve.
“It’s a hard road back for them but you can’t say just yet (unequivocally) that this season is totally written off.
“It’s a matter of bringing everyone back together and putting all the distractions aside.
“The fans are giving the club a hard time on social media because they don’t believe they should be in this position and you have to try and put all that noise behind, which is easier said than done.”
Covic is convinced the machinations at boardroom level haven’t helped, with disillusioned former general manager Richard Wilson wagging an accusatory finger at his fellow directors whilst putting his 17.5 per cent share up for sale to supporters.
“In my time there you always knew you were at a big club,” Covic continued.
“I can’t speak for what’s happening now but the way the club was run then was extremely positive - it was the best run club I’ve been involved in.
“It’s so disappointing the demise they’re going through this year.
“Of course the whole Covid thing has affected the league in general but you’d expect Victory to bounce on past that.
“A club like Victory shouldn’t be in the position they’re in.”
Covic is reserving judgement on whether his former teammate Brebner is qualified to haul Victory off the cliff edge.
“He’s a fantastic guy, a great club man,” he added. “Do I blame him completely? No.
“He’s just starting out and I don’t know what support he’s had, how big a part he played in the recruitment of players.
“Blame can’t all be apportioned to him.
“Is it the right time for him (as a coach)? Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe he’s been pushed in too early. But there are other issues there.
“I’ve been at clubs before where if things aren’t balanced at the top level it can filter down.
“It looks like it’s cumulative and it’s not harmonious at Victory on a lot of different levels.
“Would replacing Brebs be a solution? Who would they be looking for after that?”