Our second last season review is here as we analyse the 2009/10 performance of the Melbourne Victory. Last season's champions were on the verge of something special this season but fell over at the final hurdle on two occasions as they failed to take out any silverware and had to settle for runners-up both for the Premiers' Plate and the Championship.
Check back tomorrow for the season review of premiers Sydney FC.
Finished: Runners-Up Record: Wins - 14; Draws - 5; Losses - 8; Points - 47 Goals: 47 Against: 32 Top goalscorer: Carlos Hernandez (13)
What went wrong? Nothing went wrong until the final day of the regular season where they lost 2-0 to Sydney to relinquish the minor premiership and then just last weekend, they went down on penalties to lose the Grand Final. What could have been a highly successful season ended up as a failure as they had nothing to show for their efforts. Injuries to key players and travel for Asian matches occurred at the worst possible time of the season but the major prize was there for the taking and they fell when they were required to remain standing. Also, bombing out of the Asian Champions League is not an ideal scenario either.
What went right? The Victory were the highest scoring team and arguably the most consistent throughout the 2009/10 season. The played a skilful, attacking brand of football under Ernie Merrick and once again had the highest amount of fans present at each home game. We have now come to expect success from the Melbourne club but at the end of the day, you cannot really say anything went right because they walked away empty-handed.
tribalfootball.com's Player of the Year: Carlos Hernandez. Any player who can score 13 goals and produce 9 others has to be player of the year. The Johnny Warren Medallist was selected in almost every team of the year for his brilliant performances during the Victory's title defence. A couple of Costa Rica call-ups were also testament to how well he played.
Crowds: Home average - 22,405. Biggest - 44,560 (GF v Syd) Lowest - 15,168 (Rd 5 v NJ) For yet another season, the Victory easily had the highest home crowd average in the league. The fans constantly showed up to Etihad Stadium to see their beloved team and often they delivered. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Melbourne Heart entering next season and their shift to AAMI Park (Melbourne Rectangular Stadium).
The coach:: Ernie Merrick. The only coach to be at the helm of the same club since the league's inception and he continued on from his successful first four seasons with a second-place finish. Merrick's brand of football is appealing and easy on the eye and what's more, it produces results. Although the club did not achieve what it wanted to, you cannot fault Merrick for leading his side to three Grand Finals in four seasons.
Surprises: Not making any key signings during the run-in to the finals knowing that an Asian Champions League was on the horizon. Double that with the fact that their best two strikers, Archie Thompson and Robbie Kruse, were injured before the finals and you wonder why the club only brought in Nik Mrdja from the Central Coast Mariners who has an average goalscoring record. The brilliant form of young goalkeeper Mitch Langerak, although not a surprise to some, he easily beat off competition from New Zealand international to become the number one at the Victory.
Disappointments: Quite easy really. The two losses against Sydney when it really counted that did not enable any silverware to be placed in the Victory trophy cabinet.
Where to from here? The Victory will have to be wary that the novelty of the incoming Melbourne Heart will not appeal to current supporters. Clearly there will now be competition and crowd numbers are likely to fall but the main is that they keep their membership numbers up. Another one or even two strikers to replace the injured Thompson and help Kruse, a quality midfielder or winger to assist Hernandez and quite possibly another defender to help bring depth to the squad.