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A-League 2013-14 club preview: Melbourne Victory

Goal Australia brings you expert analysis of each club's situation as they prepare for the new campaign, including player movement, expectations and worst-case scenarios

Club

Melbourne Victory

Last season

Finished third, lost in the semi-finals 1-0 to Central Coast

Coach

Ange Postecoglou

Captain

Mark Milligan [replaces Adrian Leijer, demoted]

Players in

Kosta Barbarouses [Alania Vladikavkaz], Mitch Nichols [Brisbane], Pablo Contreras [Olympiakos], James Troisi [on loan, Atalanta]

Players out

Marco Rojas [Stuttgart], Marcos Flores [Mariners], Billy Celeski [Al Shaab], Diogo Ferreira [Brisbane], Tando Velaphi [Heart], Daniel Mullen [Dalian Aerbin, loan expired], Spase Dilevski, Theo Markelis, Matt Foschini [all released]

Expectations

Victory showed considerable improvement in Ange Postecoglou's first season in charge, but it wasn't enough to capture the silverware demanded by the club's expectant supporters.

The 48-year-old has tasted success with South Melbourne in the National Soccer League days and won consecutive A-League titles at Brisbane Roar - this season he will be expected to deliver the same at AAMI Park.

It hasn't been an ideal pre-season for the club. They have lost Marco Rojas and Billy Celeski, and barely managed to keep hold of Mark Milligan. Gui Finkler's return from a serious knee injury will be a major boost, but the jury is out on the arrival of veteran defender Pablo Contreras as a marquee. While his inclusion could go some way to shoring up their backline, Victory appear light in central midfield, particularly with Milligan due to be away on international duty at times during the campaign.

What has to go right

Postecoglou has shown considerable faith in his youngsters, and they will need to reward him by stepping up this season, particularly in defence. Victory appear to be lacking quality in central midfield, and the burden of responsibility on Milligan will be even greater in 2013-14. New arrivals Mitch Nichols, Kosta Barbarouses and James Troisi add plenty of options going forward, but could the former find himself shoehorned into a deeper role?

Worst-case scenario

Another season interrupted by injuries is compounded by the loss of Milligan in the January transfer window. The recruitment of 35-year-old Contreras may fail to excite supporters and fall flat on the pitch if he is unable to stay fit

Nightmare headline

"Socceroos swoop for Ange"

We think

Another top-four finish should be the minimum expectation for Victory, and they have what it takes to go at least one step further than last season's semi-final defeat. With Postecoglou sure to be a prime candidate to take over the Socceroos from Holger Osieck after the World Cup, the clock could well already be ticking on his time back in Melbourne. Has he assembled a team capable of winning the ever-improving competition? Only time will tell, and the margins of success and failure are sure to be minimal.

Prediction

Second, grand final loss [writer's prediction].

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