Brebner’s Bravehearts: Victory coach wants courage in Melbourne Derby

Melbourne Victory coach Grant Brebner wants his side to be brave, confident, and embrace the risks associated with playing well when his side faces Melbourne City in the second Melbourne Derby of the season this Saturday evening. 

Victory recorded their first win since a February 24, 2-0 win over Wellington Phoenix when they downed Newcastle Jets last Saturday; shrugging off a disappointing first half to stage a youth-inspired, second-half turnaround to come from behind and triumph 2-1. 

This Saturday’s opponents in Melbourne City, however, represent a somewhat stiffer challenge than the 11th-placed Jets. 

“We sort of put it to the side,” Victory keeper Matt Acton said. “Obviously, we enjoy the win but we move on pretty quickly because we can’t be left there resting on our laurels before a derby.

“The focus turned to City pretty quickly. We enjoyed [the win] and then we just moved on – the focus is purely on City now.”

Able to go top of the table should they secure three points and Central Coast Mariners fail to defeat Western United earlier that afternoon, coach Patrick Kisnorbo’s City have won seven of their last nine games and enter the contest having rallied to secure a late point of Sydney FC last weekend. 

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When the two Melbourne-based rivals last met on March 6, City sunk Victory to arguably their lowest ever ebb as a club: delivering a 6-0 hammering at Marvel Stadium that threatened to send Victory fans into open revolt. 

Seeking to avoid a repeat of those shenanigans, Brebner said on Friday that he wanted his side to take heart from their second-half performance against the Jets and go out and show bravery and initiative against their lighter-hued rivals.

They will be boosted in these efforts by the return of Robbie Kruse and Elvis Kamsoba to the squad for the game, although internationals Rudy Gestede and Ryan Shotton, as well as captain Leigh Broxham, remain sidelined.

“I think [the talk] at halftime [of the Jets game], it was about being brave,” said Brebner. “Instead of just giving the ball to the bloke next to you, you might need to skip a line or look at different ways of playing out. 

“We certainly spoke about that at halftime and it happened immediately with the centrebacks playing out. It’s literally about confidence and bravery. That will hopefully get us the three points tomorrow night. 

“I don’t want to play safe but safe doesn’t necessarily mean we’re playing risky football. I’m just asking players to play with confidence, with bravery and at the end of the day if they make mistakes trying to do the right thing I’ve never faulted anyone for that.” 

While acknowledging that there were a series of harsh lessons delivered to both himself and his players in their previous obliteration at the hands of City, Brebner also cautioned against weighting that result too heavily in considerations of Saturday night. 

“The last game is something that we can use, but it’s certainly not going to define tomorrow night’s game,” said the Scot. 

“There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since that game. 

“We can only look in our own back garden and we want to get two consecutive victories. Whether [that comes from] starting well, finishing well, playing well for 90 minutes, winning ugly – it doesn’t really matter in the situation we’re in. 

“It’s a must-win game. They’re all must-win in our situation. 

“Definitely, there were areas tactically where we won’t be as naive. 

“We were exposed heavily down the right-hand side. We had our young left-back in that night who Andrew Nabbout tormented a fair bit, so we’ve got Adama [Troare] back, which is great.

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“Personnel [wise] and tactically we’ll be in a better position to see what they’ve got and come up with this time. We’ll be a different team to what we were that at.

“We’ll have a lot more legs in terms of our press as well. I don’t think we really got at them and got their heads down and make them play passes under pressure that night.”

The left-back in question is highly-talented 19-year-old Dalibor Markovic, who recently left Victory to sign with cross-town foes Western United. 

When questioned on the exit of a player Victory fans had christened as ‘Yung King’, Brebner whished the youngster well – but expressed regret about the manner of his exit. 

“The most disappointing thing for me is he was released from another A-League club, we gave him an opportunity in our youth team,” he said. 

“I brought him in, gave him an A-League debut and promoted him into the squad. So it was pretty disappointing from that perspective. 

“But, you know, it’s his decision in the long term and good luck to him.”

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