Melbourne Victory have appointed Grant Brebner as their permanent A-League Head Coach.
The 42-year-old had previously served as the club’s interim boss during the A-League’s resumption post-COVID, but his performances during that stretch have seemingly proved enough to secure him the full-time role.
His appointment comes despite the rumour mill heavily suggesting that former Melbourne Heart and Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi was set to take up the role – although the naming of a club legend over a former gaffer of the club’s bitter rivals will likely be welcomed by the club’s fanbase.
“I am extremely proud to be appointed the Head Coach of Melbourne Victory,” the newly announced coach said.
“The club has been a huge part of my life, and the experience of coaching the team over the past couple of months really fuelled my desire and belief that not only did I want the opportunity to secure the role full time, but that I had the skills and expertise to do so, and to do it well.”
A former Manchester United youth product, Brebner signed as a player with Victory in 2006 and went on to make 120 appearances for the club – winning two titles and two premierships.
Moving into coaching following his retirement, Brebner briefly had stints in the Victorian state leagues before moving into the Victory youth setup, spending six years as a mentor to the club’s academy players.
Named as interim-boss following the mid-season departure of Carlos Salvachúa, himself an interim-coach following the early season sacking of Marco Kurz, Brebner had initially been adamant that he was not a candidate for the full-time role and, instead, wanted to learn as an assistant under the incoming gaffer.
But while Victory’s on-field results may not have improved significantly under his charge – the club recording just a single win post-restart as they crashed to their lowest ever points total and league position – the Scot’s attitude seemingly changed after a proper taste of the job, and his blooding of youth and honest appraisal of where the side was at ultimately served to bolster his resume enough to secure the post over Aloisi.
Yokohama F. Marinos assistant coach Arthur Papas was also a candidate for the job but is understood to have pulled out of the process earlier in August. Earlier flirtations had with Greek legend Traianos Dellas reportedly fell through over wage demands for he and his staff.
“I have made no secret of the fact that I feel like the club had strayed from its football identity and culture, and I want to help lead the solution,” Brebner said.
“Everyone who loves this club wants to see us back playing the Victory way, and I want our members and fans to be proud of how we go about our business.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work but I’m excited about the challenge. The first step will be to build a highly competitive squad.”
With Victory’s appointment of Kurz collapsing, in part, due to the friction that existed between the German’s guiding philosophy and the club’s own internal perceptions, Victory Chairman Anthony Di Pietro welcomed the appointment of one of the club’s favourite sons.
“We are delighted to appoint Grant as Head Coach of Melbourne Victory,” Di Pietro said.
“As we said from the outset, we would take the necessary time to find the right person who aligned with both the club’s football and cultural philosophy.
“Working through the recruitment process amidst the backdrop of COVID-19 certainly had its challenges, but we are excited to have someone who bleeds blue at the helm, and strongly believe Grant is the right person to lead our A-League program.
“There’s plenty of hard work ahead as we prepare for our AFC Champions League campaign and the upcoming 2020/21 A-League season, but it is exciting to finalise Grant’s appointment, so we can now look to collectively build our squad and the required support staff, to position our Club for success.
“Grant is clear in the style of football Melbourne Victory want to play, and most importantly he has already started building the foundations and culture he believes will help us return to delivering the on-field results expected at our club."
The task ahead of Brebner is a daunting one, with Robbie Kruse, Marco Rojas and the ever-present Leigh Broxham amongst a select few players remaining under contract for next season, which itself carries significant question marks in the face of ongoing, COVID-19 enforced, uncertainty surrounding the salary cap and commencement.