Forgotten man Jonathan Bru frozen out at Melbourne Victory

The midfielder's move to Australia has soured in recent months, and his limbo is unlikely to end despite a change in coach at the heavyweight A-League club
When Ange Postecoglou swapped Melbourne Victory for the Socceroos, it was impossible to deny that he was leaving the club in tremendous shape.

But not every decision made during his tenure at AAMI Park proved successful, and at each training session on Gosch's Paddock there is a constant, lonely reminder of a move gone sour.

Jonathan Bru was one of Postecoglou's first signings as Victory boss, coming off the bench to make his debut in the Round 1 derby against Melbourne Heart last season.

He went on to start eight games, and made 11 more appearances as a substitute, before steadily falling from the coaching staff's favour, and his situation has not improved since Kevin Muscat was promoted to the top job.

Bru is effectively an exile within his own club, and spends his days doing sprints and agility drills, watching on while his team-mates prepare for the weekly contests which are the lifeblood of any professional footballer, without any hope of taking part.

Club captain Mark Milligan is set to miss the Victory's game against Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday due to international duty, and there were only two realistic candidates to replace the skipper in central midfield.

Muscat has confirmed that Rashid Mahazi, a new arrival this season from Northcote City who stood in for Milligan and impressed against the Heart in Round 1, will again get the nod ahead of James Jeggo.

Bru, a Mauritius international who has represented France at every youth level from Under-16 to Under-21 and played in Ligue 1 and Portugal's Liga Sagres, was never an option.

The 28-year-old played no meaningful part in any of Victory's pre-season matches, and has not been in the matchday squad for any of their five games so far this season.

The news that James Troisi was forced to train alone at Atalanta before his escape on loan to Victory was met with sympathy for the plight of the young midfielder, who has shone since returning to Australia.

But the uncomfortable truth is that Troisi's saviours are guilty of the same dubious practice as his Serie A parent club, namely that of 'freezing out' an unwanted player in an attempt to force them out the door and off the wage bill.

Postecoglou evidently decided Bru did not have a part to play in his project, and that view is apparently shared by his loyal successor Muscat.

Bru, who is contracted until the end of this season, is sure to have been told he is surplus to requirements, and Victory had hoped he would seek a move away rather than rot in limbo.

But the player, unlikely to match his wages or Melbourne's enticing lifestyle elsewhere, is under no obligation to leave.

Other than not being quite the player they hoped he would be when they signed him, what has Bru done to incur Victory's displeasure?

"It's something I'm not prepared to speak about," Muscat said on Friday when quizzed on Bru's cirumstances.

"That situation will be addressed in due course."

When pressed on whether or not fitness concerns were curtailing Bru's activities, Muscat gave nothing away: "As I said, it's not something I want to speak about at the moment."

While many in his situation would sulk and moan and go crying to the media, Bru has, by all accounts, behaved as a model citizen during his time in purgatory.

Softly spoken and unassuming, he performs all community or sponsor obligations willingly and still has a smile on his face around the club, albeit more care-worn than at his proud unveiling as a part of the brave new Victory team Postecoglou and his football manager Paul Trimboli hoped to assemble.

Bru is not the first footballer to be cast aside by his club, and he certainly won't be the last. But his patience and humility in the face of difficult circumstances should not go unremarked, and he deserves better from a club which prides itself on being a standard-bearer for football in Australia.

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