With the powerhouse club confirming their former stalwart skipper as the new man in charge, Stuart Scudamore examines the key issues Kevin Muscat will face early in his tenureThe appointment of Ange Postecoglou to the top job in Australian football seemed the obvious decision to make, and choosing his successor at the Victory was an even easier decision.
With Ange moving on to bigger and perhaps better things, the coaching spotlight falls on the untested but clear first choice and firm fan favourite, Kevin Muscat, to lead the charge for Victory over the next two seasons.
Goal Australia takes a look at some of the potential pitfalls and problems facing the new boss at Melbourne Victory.
Ever since the coaching standards in the A-league were set sky high by Postecoglou at Roar, there have been vast improvements across the competition. However, adequately succeeding the man himself may prove to be monumental task for the new Victory boss. At arguably the biggest club in the competition, Postecoglou was expected to win the title this season, or get very close trying. The DNA of a successful side is certainly present in the current Victory camp but as of yet they are still trophyless since 2009.
It is Muscat's first and probably most important task to ensure that the framework of success remains at the club. While expectations for the season may have been lowered slightly after Ange's departure, Melbourne Victory fans won't accept them going any lower. Muscat certainly understands that demands will always be high among Victory fans, having been a part of the club since its inception. He will have to ensure that the club's identity, which has flourished over the past decade, remains.
There's that word again. Usually when a new coach takes over a team he has the opportunity to blame the previous regime on his side's woes. Unfortunately for Muscat he cannot use this excuse. Having worked with Postecoglou from day one, Muscat is an inherent part of the system that's been put in place. And this is a system which is finely tuned and primed for success. Muscat was Postecoglou's assistant, and working so closely with the best coach in Australia would suggest that the former Millwall man will avoid any drastic changes to the clubs makeup.
Expectations were high for Postecoglou's Victory and there is little evidence to suggest that this will be any different under Muscat. In his first press conference Muscat talked about the identity which has been formed over the years at Victory and the emphasis the club puts on silverware and success. His highly successful playing days at the club under Ernie Merrick mean that he knows what it takes to be part of a strong team. With his strong links to the previous coach, there are very few excuses available to Muscat if he doesn't follow Postecoglou's groundwork in producing a successful side.
It was one of the worst-kept secrets of the previous transfer window that current Victory skipper Mark Milligan was heavily courted by Crystal Palace. It is a testimony to Postecoglou's man-management skills and the club's determination that they were able to hold onto the player. Milligan took over the captain's armband and has proceeded to remind the competition why he is so important to the Victory. How much did Postecoglou's influence mean Milligan stayed for at least the near future, with the player needing to consider the upcoming 2014 World Cup. Can Muscat have the same impact? Of course, the final decision rests with the player but will Milligan be seeking a new test sooner rather than later after the man who convinced him to stay at the Victory ended up leaving sooner than expected.
While it certainly doesn't seem likely, Muscat may feel the need to tinker with the structure and tactics he has inherited from Postecoglou. In an attempt to stamp his mark on proceedings, the new man may feel he needs a tactical change-up from Postecoglou's distinctive 4-2-2-2 system. While he won't want to change things drastically, Muscat will be aware that he needs to be his own man, rather than a Postecoglou clone.
Known for being the enforcer on the pitch in his playing days, perhaps Muscat will give Victory some grit where Postecoglou provided the guile. However, as mentioned above, the new head coach has been part of the Postecoglou-led coaching set-up from the start, and will have intricate knowledge of the Victory's tactical make-up. He must ensure that any changes, no matter how small, will not affect the team's performance negatively on the field.
Kevin Muscat is Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Victory is Kevin Muscat. The two haven't been separated since the very first kick of the A-League way back in 2004. Muscat was fiercely combative when wearing the navy blue jersey, with opposition players as well as coaches often taking the brunt of his fiery temper. He has gave everything for the cause on the pitch and this endeared him to the Victory faithful who, along with Archie Thompson, regard him as their favourite son.
The progression from that cherished status to the dugout is often a route taken by former players, but playing reputations are no guarantee of managerial success. Muscat will have to tread carefully in his new role. As he is now responsible for the team's form and fortunes, Muscat will have to answer questions which he has not had to face before. If the Victory's form suffers under Muscat, his position as fan favourite may be under threat.
By the same token, his new responsibilities as head coach and role as a figure head may require Muscat to curb some of his combative tendencies which made him so popular among Victory supporters. He will have to make sacrifices in his new post but given the clubs current trajectory, everything is in place for the new boss to become one of the legends of the A-League.