Scott McDonald celebrates his winner for Western United with adoring fans. Picture: AAP
Scott McDonald celebrates his winner for Western United with adoring fans. Picture: AAP

Time for Victory to scrap Marvel?

Western United's deserved comeback win away to Melbourne Victory was instructive on many levels.

For the A-League expansion club, it confirms coach Mark Rudan as their biggest asset - on and off the field.

It also puts the blowtorch on Melbourne Victory - also on and off the pitch.

As poor as Victory was in the 3-2 loss, Rudan and the players deserve kudos for composing themselves and orchestrating one of the great fightbacks through sheer footballing exploits.

 

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Ex Celtic striker Scott McDonald celebrates scoring Western United’s winner against Melbourne Victory. Picture: AAP Image
Ex Celtic striker Scott McDonald celebrates scoring Western United’s winner against Melbourne Victory. Picture: AAP Image

 

 

Rudan's team is seriously watchable - tactical savvy, good combinations, street-smarts and aggression all in equal doses.

Much has been made of United's "Dad's Army" and I'm one of the biggest advocates for youngsters getting more minutes. But considering the hurried nature of Western United's entrance and their many off-field issues to date, there is undue pressure on Rudan and the players to make a sudden impact.

With that in mind, his recruiting of big personalities in Alessandro Diamanti, Besart Berisha, Scott McDonald, Panagiotis Kone, Ersan Gulum and Andrew Durante was shrewd.

They all contributed immensely to the famous comeback win at Marvel Stadium.

NOT SO MARVEL-LOUS

It would have made for a far superior spectacle at AAMI Park, which begs the question, how much longer will Victory persist playing at Marvel Stadium?

The Docklands venue has played host to some of the club's greatest memories, headlined by Archie Thompson's five-goal haul in the 6-0 grand final win of 2007.

Victory signed to play five games a season at Marvel Stadium, on a much better deal than the one at AAMI Park, which has become their spiritual and actual home, as their training base.

The decision to bring the seats in this season has made for a better experience for Victory fans, but they have voted with their feet.

Besart Berisha battles with ex-teammate James Donachie in front of a disappointing crowd. Picture: AAP Image
Besart Berisha battles with ex-teammate James Donachie in front of a disappointing crowd. Picture: AAP Image

Their 100th game at Marvel Stadium was one of their most disappointing, with just 20,865 attending on Saturday night - although the relative lack of hype heading into the derby played a part.

Victory coach Marco Kurz was not making excuses, but he will relish next Sunday's AAMI Park debut against Wellington Phoenix.

"I'm new here. I was always a guest at AAMI Park (with Adelaide United), it's a good atmosphere. But the stadium is not the reason for our results," Kurz said.

Victory still has Round 21 and 22 games against Adelaide United (February 29) and Sydney FC (March 7) scheduled for Marvel Stadium. Now that the A-League clubs effectively run the competition, they should have the final call on whether they play a home final - if they in fact win that right - at AAMI Park or Docklands.

Captain Ola Toivonen gave Victory the perfect start with a superb goal. Picture: AAP Image
Captain Ola Toivonen gave Victory the perfect start with a superb goal. Picture: AAP Image

Moving forward, Victory bosses must think long and hard - in consultation with fans - as to whether they persist with Docklands.

Of immediate concern are Victory's dour and disjointed on-field displays.

Not so long ago, Victory may have seized the opportunity of being 2-0 up after seven minutes and gone for the jugular - for a third goal against a vulnerable team (the club is just four games old and copped a late goal last week to lose 2-1 despite playing with an extra man) could have been devastating.

Now Victory must scrap away and pick up points over coming weeks before the return of star trio Andrew Nabbout, Robbie Kruse and Tim Hoogland.

 

MAKING A MARK IN THE WEST

It will be a long haul for the A-League new boys and question marks remain as to whether the Geelong public will adopt "Western United" and if the greater western region will travel to GMHBA Stadium.

But this team deserves bigger crowds than the average 7000 that have attended the first two home games.

Western United players celebrate the comeback win at Melbourne Victory. Picture: Getty Images
Western United players celebrate the comeback win at Melbourne Victory. Picture: Getty Images

And Saturday night they deservedly enjoy the prime time slot against Western Sydney Wanderers, with top spot a potential prize for the winner.

More performances like last night and the crowds will grow as finals football beckons in United's debut season.

The sense of occasion was not lost on Rudan.

"We're a new football club and you look at all the clubs that are here today from 15 years ago, it's moments like these that can define what your club is moving forward," Rudan said.

Western United coach Mark Rudan celebrates with the fans after a defining win over Victory. Picture: AAP Image
Western United coach Mark Rudan celebrates with the fans after a defining win over Victory. Picture: AAP Image

"This will be a game I believe in 10 or 15 years time where we can look back as a club and it's quite a defining moment as far as I'm concerned.

"We've got a long way to go by the way. I'm extremely happy with their performance and attitude and persistence. They should now get a lot of confidence from that, we can come to a place like this and be two-nil down in a matter of minutes and turn it around.

"They fought. It wasn't just what we did with the ball, we worked extremely hard without the ball and suffered for long moments. You need to suffer in games and we did that and came out on top."

News Corp Australia

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