The caretaker coach of embattled A-League club Melbourne Victory says the players are playing for their future in the wake of Saturday’s embarrassing 7-0 drubbing at the hands of crosstown rivals Melbourne City.
- Victory is hoping to appoint a permanent head coach soon
- Caretaker coach Steve Kean says he will not seek to take the role permanently
- Club legend Archie Thompson said he was “a bit gobsmacked” by the team’s recent performance
The thrashing prompted Victory to sack head coach Grant Brebner and promote Steve Kean from his assistant role until the club finds a permanent replacement.
Victory, one of the competition’s most successful clubs, is languishing on the bottom of the ladder with three wins, 11 losses and two draws to their name.
“I understand the frustration of fans … it’s understandable for the fans to be hurting,” Kean told reporters ahead of Friday’s clash with Western Sydney Wanderers.
“The players are hurting, the staff, everybody involved in the club. And we hope that hurt turns into energy and with that energy we can turn that into performances.”
Kean, a former Blackburn Rovers manager, came to the club as an assistant coach late last year.
Criticism of the side’s lacklustre showing has been fierce on social media but Kean rejects the notion the players do not care.
“They care and they’re hurting,” he said.
“But they now know that they’re playing for their future. If they want to stay at this club they have to perform.”
Last month, supporters showed their dismay at the team’s 6-0 loss to City when a small group of fans turned up to training and held a banner that said: “The line has been crossed.”
Victory is hoping to appoint a permanent head coach in the coming weeks, according to Kean, who indicated he would not put his hand up for the top job.
“I have a lot of designs of doing a good job but I don’t expect to be here,” he explained.
‘A dark cloud in club’s history’
Club legend Archie Thompson said he was upset for Brebner.
“[He is an] ex-teammate of mine, a mate, and you always want to help mates when you can, especially when they’re transitioning into such a tough gig,” Thompson told the ABC.
Thompson also expressed his disappointment on behalf of both the players and the fans.
“I was just a bit gobsmacked when I saw goal after goal after goal and the way they were conceded.
“That’s when I was like, ‘Wow, this is not good.’
“It’s so hard to watch something that you contributed to build … to be slowly be taken away brick by brick over the last few years. It hasn’t been just this year.
“I’ve felt that depth was always an issue, the quality of player coming into the squad, and this has just been a crack that I’ve been seeing for a long time.”
Thompson said while the side’s confidence would be low, he wanted to give supporters a positive message.
“I want to give hope and belief to the fans that this is just a bit of a dark cloud in our club’s history,” he said.
“We’ve had it before — we had it with the first year (in the competition) … but we seem to find our way back.”
Thompson flagged ex-Western Sydney Wanders coach Tony Popovic and Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay as the lead candidates for the head coach role.