Kevin Muscat leaves as the king of Melbourne Victory

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The club will take its first steps without their synonymous leader

Kevin Muscat was Melbourne Victory's first ever signing in May 2005 as the club prepared for their inaugural season in the A-League.

Coach Ernie Merrick was delighted to bring the defender, who was once tagged the 'most hated man in English football', back to Australia.

"He's one of the best defenders Australia's ever produced - he provides experience, leadership and a winning attitude which I hope will permeate throughout the team," Merrick said when he signed the defensive enforcer.

"He's a terrific mentor for any player. A professional sportsman of his quality is a perfect role model for the boys."

Merrick's words have rang true about Muscat for the past 14 seasons he has spent at the club - six seasons as captain, two as assistant manager and six as head coach.

And you can't argue with Muscat's record at the club. 

Four championships (two as captain, two as coach), three premierships (two as captain, one as coach), an FFA Cup (coach) and a Pre-Season Challenge Cup (captain).

Every time Victory has won a trophy in its entire existence, Muscat has either been captain or coach of the club.

Kevin Muscat Melbourne Victory

He is widely criticised for his disciplinary record as a player - 123 yellow cards and 12 red cards in 19 years - which included the horrific career-ending tackle on Melbourne Heart's Adrian Zahra and a challenge which ended in a lawsuit with Charlton Athletic's Matty Holmes.

But these flaws in his playing style have certainly not affected his ability as a leader - both as a skipper and coach - and certainly haven't rubbed on the teams he has been involved in - judging by their incredible success.

Footballers wanted to play for Melbourne Victory while Muscat was in charge. The list of players to leave the club while he was boss and return at a later stage includes Mark Milligan, Kosta Barbarouses, James Troisi, Marco Rojas, James Donachie and Nick Ansell.

There was a moment in 2013, Muscat's first season as coach, where you realised he was the man in charge and no one would dispute his authority.

With the team leading 1-0 nearing half-time against Adelaide United, Adrian Leijer was sent off for a second bookable offence and Muscat sacrificed Troisi - Victory's best player who had scored five goals in his first six games.

As Troisi looked to storm off through the Etihad Stadium wing and down the tunnel, Muscat walked over and demanded the angry midfielder sit on the bench with the rest of the team.

It has forever been Muscat's way or the highway - but now it's time for both parties to take a different road.

If Muscat wants to continue to prove himself as manager, he needs to flourish elsewhere, whether that be in Asia or Europe.

To be a contender for the Socceroos job in the future, he needs to succeed at another club, much like Graham Arnold did at Sydney FC after Central Coast Mariners and Tony Popovic with Perth Glory after the Western Sydney Wanderers.

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For Victory, it's the end of the era but it appears to be the right time to turn over a new leaf and start building for their next successful period.

You got the feeling a change has been coming at the club for a while, with the fans getting frustrated by a stale style of play over the past couple of seasons - with last season's 'Houdini' grand final win covering up the flaws.

It will be interesting to see if Muscat can prosper in the next stage of the career and it's doubtful that this is the last time we see him in the A-League or at Melbourne Victory.

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