Monday, November 21, 2011
Give Durakovic more time: ex-Victory boss
By Sam Lienert
Melbourne Victory's former chairman Geoff Lord believes the A-League club's decision to sack two-time championship coach Ernie Merrick was a "knee-jerk reaction".But Lord says it is too early to make a reasoned assessment of whether installing rookie replacement Mehmet Durakovic was the right move.A Facebook page called "Sack Mehmet Durakovic" appeared on Sunday night, following the club's disappointing 2-2 home draw with 10-man Perth Glory.It had attracted almost 700 fans by Monday afternoon, with Victory supporters having also jeered their team off the pitch after Sunday's performance.Durakovic struggled to explain his star-studded team's poor start to the A-League season, admitting they were failing to meet lofty expectations, currently sitting seventh with one win from seven games.It left them desperately needing to win this Sunday's home clash with bottom-placed Gold Coast.Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro declined a request on Monday to talk about the club's season or Durakovic's performance.Lord guided the Victory through their first six seasons, in which they made three grand finals and won two championships, with Merrick at the helm.But after the fifth-placed finish last season, Di Pietro sacked Merrick soon after taking over and installed the club's youth coach Durakovic, initially as caretaker, then on a two-year deal."I think it was a knee-jerk reaction, to start with a fresh broom," Lord told AAP on Monday."It was more out with the old and in with the new."They looked extensively for a new coach and in the end decided to go with Mehmet."Lord said it was unusual that the Victory backed an untried coach with inexperienced assistants, long-time skipper Kevin Muscat and Steve Mautone."Normally in a situation like that, if you tried a new coach, you'd have experienced assistants," he said.But Lord also noted that when the Victory missed the finals under Merrick in their first season, numerous supporters called for his head before he led the club to championships in two of their next three campaigns.He said the Victory had excuses for a slow start, with many recruits, including attacking players Harry Kewell, Marco Rojas and Jean Carlos Solorzano, who had yet to completely gel.That, combined with the change of coach, meant the club should be given more leeway, Lord said."There's a long way to go, it's a bit early to be making judgments."