Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat has angered the club's fans with several tactical decisions during the 2-1 loss to Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Wednesday night.
After Rhys Williams' yellow card was upgraded to red following VAR intervention, Kosta Barbarouses put the 10 men of Victory ahead before half time, before a howler from goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas and unfortunate own goal to Mark Milligan helped Wellington to victory in the second half.
With Victory going 2-1 down in the 83rd minute, Muscat opted to bring on inexperienced defender Stefan Nigro for star striker Besart Berisha three minutes later, instead of using attacking players Jai Ingham and Christian Theoharous.
Despite the team being down to 10 men for more than 80 minutes and having played a match against Central Coast Mariners in sweltering conditions four days earlier, Muscat only made two of the three alloted substitutions, with new signing Terry Antonis also replacing Argentine midfielder Matias Sanchez in the 58th minute.
Victory conceded 30 shots to three in the match as their undermanned team struggled to contain waves of Wellington attacks, particularly in the second half, and supporters took to social media to voice their anger at their coach.
Many were shocked at the lack of substitutions considering the game situation and recent heavy schedule, while others questioned why the Victory coach's choice to bring on a defender for a striker in the dying stages when the match needed salvaging.
There was also question marks raised about the deployment of an underdone Antonis into midfield for Sanchez, leaving the former Sky Blue and Wanderer as the lone central midfielder in a team getting battered because of their man disadvantage.
This game is cooked. Kalezić over reaches in the first half, now Muscat doesn't help his own team with his (non)subs. Still one CM – now an underdone #8 like Antonis – while the front four (Troisi esp.) remain? And one sub at 83 mins for a team long down to 10? Yuck. #WELvMVC — Shane HD (@Hirald0) January 10, 2018
The Nigro/Berisha/Broxham moves should have happened much, much earlier, not the 88th minute when losing FFS. And then not using a third attacking sub to chase a goal. Seriously, I just don’t get any of it. — Steve (@mv__steve) January 10, 2018
That’s actually embarrassing management out of all the football I’ve watched in my life I can say I’ve never ever seen a manager make a sub like that! How can people tell me Muscat is a good manager? Please enlighten me. #WELvMVC — Mitch Franco (@AFCFranco86) January 10, 2018
Just got in from work WTF? Why would Muscat not put Ingham or Theo on when we are chasing goals? Ingham will never get his confidence back when your treated like this, Did Antoni’s touch the ball? And Troisi? #WELvMVC — James Taylor (@TaylorJim181) January 10, 2018
Look.....— Dan Turner (@Big_DT23) January 10, 2018
My Manager resume only goes as far as Football Manager 2011.
But it would seem to me, down 2-1 you would put on a quick attacker (Theo) over a LB (Nigro)#WELvMVC
Williams our best player and his red card was always going to hurt, but the inability of Muscat to adapt to it hurt just as badly, why the hell can't he make a sub? #mvfc #WELvMVC — Katie Lambeski (@katielambeski) January 10, 2018
Victory host a struggling Perth Glory outfit at AAMI Park on Saturday night with a poor result likely to increase the pressure on Muscat.