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Too many chiefs, and not enough goals

by Ben Somerford on Oct 20, 2011

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Harry Kewell, Archie Thompson, Jean Carlos Solorzano, Danny Allsopp, Marco Rojas and Carlos Hernandez are some of the attacking options at Melbourne Victory's disposal, but they are still yet to score this A-League season. What is going on?

Okay, yep, we are only two games into the season, but 180 minutes without one goal from any of these outstanding talents is pretty unbelievable.

Admittedly against Sydney FC in Round One they had some good opportunities but Sky Blues keeper Liam Reddy had one fine evening in goals. And after Friday night's 1-0 loss to Adelaide United, Victory coach Mehmet Durakovic said that they were creating chances but just not converting them. Personally, I thought that was a bit of a cop-out. Victory were poor against the Reds, devoid of ideas and failed to work as a team.

Indeed, that is the fear in a team of champions who, at the moment, aren't playing like a champion team. Right now, things aren't working for Victory and unfortunately for them that is leading to them falling into the trap of hoping for moments of individual brilliance rather than working as a unit.

Of course, it is early in the season and there is time for Victory to learn to function, especially considering it's a top six out of 10 teams that will contest finals this term. However there are some clear-cut issues which Durakovic needs to address, otherwise the pressure will start to really mount, with grumblings about his tenure already being heard. As a manager this is one of his first challenges and it could make or break him.

First and foremost, Durakovic needs to decide on how he wants to fit all these star players into the one team. It's no use just throwing them all on the pitch and waiting for something to happen. There needs to be a plan otherwise they won't play as a unit.

Kewell, as the club's marquee and one of Australia's best ever players, needs to be the centre point and needs to be given some freedom. In my opinion, if Victory aren't going to be patient in their build-up play (they were very direct on Friday), then the 33-year-old is wasted up front.

The Socceroo is best when he has a yard of space to use his skill, run at an opponent or even take a shot on his lethal left peg. Opposition defences fear that prospect, rather than Kewell playing with his back to goal. Thus give Kewell a pocket of space ahead of the midfield and behind a front two, where he can use his touch and skill but also run at opponents, and he'll have defenders across the A-League worried.

Victory also need to start Jean Carlos Solorzano who has looked dangerous this season in his appearances as a substitute. Solorzano scored 11 goals for the champions last season and it was no fluke. He has pace, a powerful shot and a bit of skill. Place him up front alongside Archie Thompson (who's been playing out wide) and Victory can stretch defences with their speed, thus creating space for Kewell.

Some might ask is that too much of an attacking line-up, but I'm a believer that attack is the best form of defence.

Finally another key for Victory is the speedy Rojas. This kid can play and he's already looked lively for Victory this term, although there's been no end product. Durakovic, though, only needs to be reminded that Rojas provided seven assists in 16 appearances for Wellington last season. Chris Greenacre, at 180cm tall, made the most of Rojas' service last term and there's no reason to believe Thompson, Solorzano or Kewell couldn't do the same once they get on the same wavelength.

Rojas has already been striding down the right flank with pace this season, but once Victory get some continuity in their combinations then they will be able to make the most of this talented kid, who is still very raw.

You might say that forces Hernandez out, and that's true, but realistically that was always going to be the case once Kewell was signed.

Kewell is the marquee man and Victory need to utilise his quality to the maximum. From there it's about framing a team around him, which suits each individual's assets and best qualities. If that means someone is forced out, so be it. That's the challenge for Durakovic, but the question all Victory supporters will soon be asking is, does he have the conviction and nous to do it?