Season preview | Melbourne Victory

Victory suffered badly last season but can two key signings take the big V back to the top?

Victory suffered badly last season but can two key signings take the big V back to the top?

Last season, Hyundai A-League fans got to see something they-d never seen before: Melbourne Victory in trouble. It all went pear-shaped for the biggest club in the league; two coaches came and went, as well as various boardroom staff and a director of football, and the Harry Kewell debacle remains one of the strangest storylines the A-League has ever seen.

But give credit where it-s due - Victory moved quickly to repair the damage by snaring Ange Postecoglou from Brisbane Roar, an off-season signing that was only recently trumped.

After two season of unprecedented success in Brisbane, Postecoglou already has an aura about him in the A-League, and that kind of reputation can have an instant effect. Players believe they-re getting the best, a coach who will make them the best - the next step is clear.

The club had already begun to rebuild its aging squad before Postecoglou-s arrival but the changes continued apace. Radical alterations can upset some teams but Victory needed that clean slate, and demanded those younger legs.

Now they boast a lean, athletic and agile roster, an interesting mix of local veterans, upcoming talent and little-known imports - except for one... Pre-ADP, Marcos Flores-s arrival certainly caused the biggest stir in the competition.

What remains to be seen is how Postecoglou will deploy the Argentine. The coach has revealed his Victory side won-t be a direct copy of what he did with the Roar; instead he will adapt his tactics to give his new team something different.

Pre-season reports indicate that Flores will be playing as a “false nine”, in an attacking line-up that will also feature Archie Thompson, talented youngster Marco Rojas and Brazilian Guilherme Finkler.

If it-s true, it will cement Postecoglou-s reputation as our most progressive coach and adds to the impression that the A-League is a rapidly evolving and improving competition.

Key player: Adrian Leijer The Victory captain has been struggling for fitness in pre-season but his availability to play alongside Mark Milligan will be vital to the club this season.

Victory had the second worst defence last season, shipping almost double what the Premiers Central Coast did (24 to 43).

X-Factor: Marcos Flores Even with his history with rivals Adelaide United, Flores would be an exciting addition to any A-League team. He knows the competition, and opposition and fans all know what he-s capable of.

Coach: Ange Postecoglou Brisbane, premiership, grand finals, record-breaking, possession... I think we-ve all got a fair idea who Ange is right now.

But there is a great deal of expectation after his achievements in Brisbane; if he matches them, we-re all in for a treat.

Transfers In: Mark Milligan (JEF United, Japan), Marcos Flores (Henan Jianye), Theo Markelis , Guilherme Finkler (Criciuma, Brazil), Adam Traore (Gold Coast United), Sam Gallagher (Central Coast Mariners), Jonathon Bru, Spase Dilevski (Adelaide United) Out: Harry Kewell (released), Ante Covic (released), Carlos Hernandez (released) and Grant Brebner (released), Matthew Kemp (retired), Rodrigo Vargas (released), Tom Pondeljak (released)

Key fixtures Round 1 v Melbourne Heart (H) What a start to Postecoglou-s reign; the Melbourne derby on the first day of the season. Expect fireworks.

Round 2 v Brisbane Roar (A) Oh, those cheeky A-League draw makers. Ange, back in Brisbane so soon, and up against his former no.2 and champion team. Let-s hope it lives up to expectation.

Round 25 v Sydney FC (A) Late in the season, Victory make the trip north against their great rivals. Let-s not get ahead of ourselves but could this affect the outcome of the title?

Stat Shot Last season, Victory created just 22 assists (second worst), had 307 shots (third worst) and made 82 cross (worst). The result? Thirty five goals, 22 less than Brisbane Roar.

Prediction: Second (This is not the author-s prediction but an average of contributors.)

The Hyundai A-League 2012/13 season kicks off on Friday 5 October with the season-s first Melbourne derby at Etihad Stadium. Click here for tickets to all the matches.

The official Hyundai A-League 2012/13 fantasy football game and tipping competitions are also open - so sign up now.