3 candidates emerge for Melbourne Victory coaching role

Melbourne Victory, the A-League Men’s superpower, faces a critical decision in their search for a new coach as the team seeks to maintain continuity.

Tony Popovic’s exit from Victory came as no surprise, despite bringing the team to the grand final and falling just five minutes short of triumph.

Now a decent Victory squad is in need of a new leader – but who will it be?

Why do Melbourne Victory need a new coach?

After his three-year contract with Victory expired, Popovic decided to leave.

It had been reported that Victory and Popovic were at war about the salary on his upcoming deal with the club.

Popovic was also allegedly a candidate for the vacant head coach position at Croatian powerhouse Hadjuk Split until Italian star Gennaro Gattuso was hired.

During his three years with Victory, Popovic reached the semi-finals and grand finals in consecutive campaigns, with the 2022-23 season being difficult due to the historic Melbourne Derby crowd incident.

During his three years with Victory, Popovic reached the semi-finals and grand finals in consecutive campaigns, with the 2022-23 season being difficult due to the historic Melbourne Derby crowd incident.

Who will be next Melbourne Victory coach? Ranking the likely options

Patrick Kisnorbo

Kisnorbo, the early choice, is a sensible idea on paper but would be highly divisive among Victory supporters.

Kisnorbo’s football experience, as a former Melbourne City captain and coach, isn’t ideal for Victory fans, but the club has seen lots of former ‘enemies’ play key roles in the past.

After receiving a chilly reception upon joining Victory, ex-Sydney FC player Mark Milligan went on to captain the club to a championship in 2014-15.

Josh Brillante, the club’s previous captain, played over 100 games for Sydney FC and Melbourne City. Bruno Fornaroli, this season’s leading scorer, established his name in the A-League with Melbourne City before moving to Victory from Perth Glory.

After three seasons of pragmatic football from Popovic, Kisnorbo would bring an offensive attitude and philosophy that would undoubtedly rejuvenate a Victory team that appeared stale despite their late-season comeback.

The former Socceroo is currently unemployed after being fired by French club Troyes, where he won only three of 40 games in his first managerial stint outside of Australia.

Kisnorbo is clearly appreciated in Australia, as evidenced by the great references he received during his recent leadership of the A-League All Stars team.

While some forward-thinking talent would be required, Victory have enough of attacking talents who would be ideal for Kisnorbo’s style of play.

Mark Milligan

When speculations of Popovic’s departure from Victory first surfaced in the midst of the season, the ex-Victory legend was the clear frontrunner.

Since finishing his playing career at Macarthur at the end of the 2020-21 season, Milligan has emerged as the most sought-after A-League Men’s assistant coach.

The 38-year-old is currently with Adelaide United, where he works under Carl Veart, after the side finished eighth in the league this season.

While Victory has had varied results in hiring club heroes as head coaches, the ultimate success came while former captain Kevin Muscat was in control of the team.

However, former captain Grant Brebner struggled in the same situation and finally wilted under the pressure, badly damaging his future coaching career.

With Kisnorbo in the running for the post, there is a sense that he is now second-choice and will be the Victory manager if the favourite is unable to reach an agreement with the club or if the Victory decide Kisnorbo’s links to Melbourne City will alienate the fan base.

Nick Montgomery

Montgomery is yet to be linked to the Victory coaching position, but he is available following his dismissal by Scottish Premiership club Hibernian.

Prior to taking the post in Scotland, Montgomery guided the Central Coast Mariners to the A-League championship, where he also captained and played for five years.

His present availability has led to speculation that the Leeds-born Australian citizen could fill the vacant Western Sydney Wanderers coaching position.

Melbourne Victory would be stupid not to consider a manager capable of taking over one of Scottish football’s larger clubs.

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