The Red Half of Melbourne

by Teo Pellizzeri on Nov 29, 2011

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Contrary to popular belief, Melbourne Victory is in fact the red team in Melbourne.

A fourth sending off of the season on Sunday means the Victory are averaging a man off every two games, not a ratio a team can sustain.

So why then did coach Mehmet Durakovic and captain Adrian Leijer react in such a prickly manner when this stat was put to them by The Age’s Michael Lynch after their 3-2 win against Gold Coast United.

Leijer himself is one of the four offenders this season, with Ante Covic, Matthew Foschini and most recently Roddy Vargas all joining him in the red-card club.

Perhaps it’s just an unhappy coincidence - after all, Leijer’s was for two yellows, one of them harsh, Covic for a last man foul rather than a violent act and Foschini’s for a tackle that was a foul at best.

But given Vargas received a first blatant red for a bad tackle, now would be a good time for Melbourne address the situation.

Argue the decisions all you like, even argue a conspiracy, but the Victory are a team far too regularly getting their numbers reduced.

Durakovic was prickly about the line of questioning with the cards, most likely because his team’s two best results this season have come after the reds were shown.

The rearguard effort against Brisbane Roar when down to nine men was a hard-earned point, while the win against Gold Coast when down to 10 men for 60 minutes at the weekend has the club sitting third.

Typical media, always focusing on the negative.

But the resilience and character of these backs-to-the-wall results will dissipate if Victory continues to put itself in this position.

Don’t make any mistake, the reffing in the A-League this season has been alarmingly bad and an unfair red card could be lurking around the corner at any time given how trigger-happy some of the referees are.

But the onus is on the Victory to keep the full complement of 11 on the park.

There are only so many times a team with self-inflicted damage can go to the wall.