'I'm hurting': Brebner demands Victory embrace the pain of horror run to turn season around
As a player, as a fan and now as a head coach, Grant Brebner has seen it all at Melbourne Victory.
He's experienced the highs, he's endured the lows, and as he guides his club through one of its darkest hours, the Victory boss has challenged his players to follow his lead in fronting the criticism and hurt, using it as a tool to enact change.
Plagued by a misfiring attack speckled with stars, the plight of Brebner's side has deepened week by week as Victory remain stuck to the bottom of the A-League table with just one win, five goals, four points and a goal difference of minus eight after seven games.
MATCH REPORT: Melbourne Victory 0-1 Newcastle Jets
"I’m hurting," Brebner admitted in the aftermath of Victory's 1-0 loss to Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon.
"I’m the head coach of this football club, I’m a fan of this football club and I’ve played at this football club.
If anybody thinks that I’m not hurting, or I’m not going to work as hard as I can to turn this around then they don’t know me obviously.
"We’ve had tough times at this football club in the past, and it just drives me even more to turn it around, because it’s hurting."
The contrast in fortunes experienced by the two sides as the Jets edged past Victory at AAMI Park could not have been more stark, as the travelling side bereft of big-name stars extended their unbeaten run to five games, scoring one of their five shots on target as the Victory hit the mark with just one of 13 strikes - a shot saved by Jets 'keeper Jack Duncan.
Callum McManaman returned to the fray after an injury layoff and instantly proved himself as the bright spark amongst the gloom, but Brebner admitted post-match it would take more than one player to lead a resurgence.
The tepid performance drew a chorus of jeers and negative chants from the home fans at full-time, letting out the dejection and frustration brought out by another lacklustre performance from their side.
Brebner says it was a fitting response in the dire situation.
"The reaction the fans gave, that’s where we’re at," he said.
"If as a footballer, and a head coach of this football club, if that doesn’t (make you want) to turn it around, if that doesn’t make you want to go out there and give everything you’ve got to turn it around, then in all honesty you shouldn’t be here.
"The fans are entitled to their opinion, and their opinion at the moment is justified.
"I know exactly where they’re at, and the players need to know exactly where they’re at, and they’ll be told tomorrow."
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With another fixture just around the corner against Wellington Phoenix on Wednesday night, Brebner admits there will be plenty of hard discussions taking place in his camp throughout the next 48 hours.
Brebner revealed Marco Rojas is in contention to feature in the clash with the Phoenix, giving Victory the prospect of Rojas, McManaman, Robbie Kruse and Rudy Gestede all featuring in the frontline together for a period of the contest.
With underperforming players in the firing line, Brebner says the opportunity has arisen now to look at what's going wrong, face the facts and attempt to turn it around, and with the games coming thick and fast, a quick response is growing increasingly important.
"We understand exactly where we’re at, and understand the magnitude of where we are positionally in the league and understand what we went through in the last seven games," he said.
"We’ve got a big job ahead of us, I’ve got a big job ahead of me.
We’ve got to turn it around, there’s no other way around it - we’ve got to turn it around.
"If that means having some really, really tough, hard conversations with players, and letting them know where I see them at, then I’ll do it."
Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix
Wednesday, February 24 2021
Kick-off 7.05pm AEDT
Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix
Sunday, February 28 2021
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 6.10pm AEDT
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