Muscat on learning curve in coaching job
MELBOURNE Victory coach Kevin Muscat would have been delighted to have secured Brisbane Roar marksman Besart Berisha as a marquee signing for next season, but the former Socceroo needs some help now if he is to get his side out of its form slump.
It was never going to be easy for the ex-Wolverhampton Wanderers and Crystal Palace hard man to follow in the footsteps of Ange Postecoglou.
While Postecoglou had not had that much success in Melbourne, he had secured two titles with Brisbane, so comparisons were always going to be made between the new Socceroos coach and his successor.
You only have to look at David Moyes at Manchester United to see how tough it is for a manager to take over from a coach who has done it all and won the T-shirt.
But until the past two weeks, the 40-year-old fledgling coach had seemingly been doing well in his first head coaching position.
A 3-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers on January 14 seemed to suggest he had the team playing his way and things were going well.
But four days later a resurgent Wellington Phoenix thumped the Victory 5-0, and last week Sydney FC showed up more defensive mayhem as Muscat's men suffered a second consecutive 5-0 defeat.
Games will not get any easier for Muscat with tomorrow's tough trip to Perth sure to test the Victory's inexperienced squad.
Melbourne then heads to Gosford for a battle with in-form Central Coast before a home clash with an improving Adelaide United and the final derby of the campaign against Melbourne Heart.
We all know Muscat is a fighter, you only have to look at his playing career to realise that, but the next few weeks will go a long way to shaping the future of Muscat as a coach.
The signing of playmaker Tom Rogic on loan from Celtic will obviously help, as will the return of experienced skipper Mark Milligan from injury.
But to me it has been a surprise that Muscat has not dabbled in the New Year transfer window which closes next week.
The Victory are short on goals and Archie Thompson, who admittedly has been out a lot through injury this season, and James Troisi, who was scoring for fun earlier in the season, has not been the player he was and is struggling to make an impact.
There are a few days left for the Victory to bring new players in but if that doesn't happen then it will be down to the likes of Rogic, Thompson, Troisi, Gui Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses to help start changing things around at the club.
Muscat has been talking a good game over the past two weeks after the terrible results against Wellington and Sydney and yesterday said he wanted his players to take some responsibility.
"It's been a tough fortnight, but it's obviously something we can't shy away from," Muscat said.
"I wanted to see a reaction during the week and asked everyone to stand up during the week and show me they wanted to play for this football club and I have had that reaction.
"It's not been an easy week.
"A lot of egos have been dented."
The only reaction fans want to see is on the pitch and Muscat will have to keep working hard to see if he can turn things around.