Melbourne Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro says the club’s struggling A-League team is bereft of confidence and has questioned the players’ spirit ahead of Saturday night’s “Big Blue” against Sydney FC.
The Victory are rock bottom heading into their battle at Jubilee Stadium with the reigning champions, who are favoured to hand the Melbourne club its fourth defeat on the trot and ninth loss of the season.
Besieged Victory coach Grant Brebner is a man under pressure, despite seemingly having the support of Di Pietro.
It’s instead the Victory players who are earning the wrath of the club chairman.
In a letter to Victory fans posted on the club’s website on Friday, Di Pietro said the club was “disappointed and hurting”.
“There is no walking away from the fact that our on-field performances in the A-League this season have been disappointing,” Di Pietro said.
“Clearly the team are not playing with the confidence they need to be and this needs to return.
“Win, lose or draw, the expectation at our club is for a determined fighting spirit to be shown from everyone involved.”
Di Pietro said the Victory’s club departments were being “constantly” reviewed, as evidenced by the recent addition of Jean-Paul de Marigny to Brebner’s coaching staff.
“Our appointment of Jean-Paul de Marigny … is one action which demonstrates our intent to support our head coach Grant Brebner, Steve Kean and the A-League program,” he said.
“Reviews will be ongoing as we want to continuously drive improvement and strengthen the program including our recruitment and the squad.
“We are all disappointed and hurting but we must stand together and remain calm, clear and positive in all our decisions.
“As a club we are determined to do what is required to get back to where we should be, and we will do this through considered and informed decisions across all areas of the organisation.
“I love this club and I have experienced the incredible highs and heartbreaking lows as a member, a board member and as chairman.
“I recognise that we are judged on our performance as a club, and we take responsibility for this.”
The Victory’s Socceroos’ star Robbie Kruse has a similar love for the Victory and is also “hurting”.
“We know as players it’s been a really difficult season – we can’t spin it any other way,” Kruse said.
“I really love the club. It’s given me a lot in my career and really set the platform to have the career that I’ve had.
“I’m feeling really hurt for the fans and for the club in general that we’ve been dishing out some of the stuff we have.”
Despite the Victory’s woes, Sydney FC coached Steve Corica said his side would not be complacent on Saturday night.
“They’re definitely a dangerous team,” Corica said.
“We don’t look at where they’re sitting in the table. We know they have some good quality players that we need to stop.”