Victory back from the darkness

Veteran midfielder Grant Brebner has described the past two weeks at the club as the most difficult he has experienced as a player, but has backed the Victory to bounce back on Wednesday night against Kawasaki Frontale.

Veteran midfielder Grant Brebner has described the past two weeks at the club as the most difficult he has experienced as a player, but has backed the Victory to bounce back on Wednesday night against Kawasaki Frontale.

For a team that has become accustomed to success, the heart-breaking Grand Final loss to Sydney plus a 4-0 capitulation against Kawasaki three days later must have been hard to take.

Melbourne came within inches of becoming the first side ever to defend a Hyundai A-League championship and in the end it took penalties to decide the champion for 2009/10.

The coin toss that is a penalty shootout decided it would be Sydney who would hold the trophy aloft, leaving Melbourne in an unfamiliar situation as the vanquished.

The devastation of that defeat and a serious knee injury to talisman Archie Thompson had barely set in among the playing group when they were marched onto a plane and off to Japan for an Asian Champions League match.

There was always two ways which that match could go. Melbourne could rescue some pride with a strong performance on the road or it could collapse under the emotions of a week which had turned from hope to disaster.

Unfortunately for Melbourne it was the latter as it crashed 4-0 and almost extinguished any hope it had of progressing to the round of 16. Brebner said it was hard to imagine a tougher time in his long professional career.

"There's no doubt . It's been one of the toughest weeks on the park and off the park that I've had in my career," Brebner said ahead of the return leg on Wednesday.

But the affable Scot believes that having had time to reflect on the week from hell, his team is ready to prove its mettle at Docklands.

"We've had our down time. We've spoken a lot with the coaching staff and as a playing group about our reaction. We've lost heavily in the past, we lost 4-0 to Newcastle once and we regrouped. It will definitely be a different team you'll see out there tomorrow night," he said.

"We were the champions and teams have always lifted against us. Week in week out, we've always had to play at our best. The last fortnight has been difficult, but I think again, you'll see the character of this club, certainly, since I've been at this club, on show tomorrow night."

He admits the loss of Thompson has been hard to take, but as a measure of the positive feeling flowing through the club, he denies that Wednesday's match is only about restoring respectability.

"To lose anybody is going to send a shudder through the group. Archie being our marquee player and we saw the other night, our player of the season. It's going to be a hard one to play without Archie. But we still have XI men going out on the park and we need to win this game to progress in the group," he said.

"We want to progress in this group. It's as simply as that. Until it's mathematically impossible to qualify out of this group, then we want to win these games. We've still got two home games to come where we are looking at maximum points."

Brebner said it is the responsibility of the senior players at the club to lift the mist of disappointment and ensure that Melbourne's less experienced players are mentally prepared for the challenge of taking on Kawasaki.

"There has certainly been times in the past 10-12 days that we've went around to the squad and we've spoken to players. I think as an older player at any time of the season, good or bad, you have to talk to players. It's certainly something that the older players have been trying to do in the past fortnight," he said.