Melbourne derby. Check. Big crowd. Check. Great atmosphere. Check. Goals. Check. Red card. Check. A win for Victory. Ummmm.
Well that didn't exactly to plan did it now. All going to plan we were going to put the new boys in their place and in the process provide a much needed kick-start to a somewhat stuttering season. But alas, it wasn't to be, as Victory quite simply didn't turn up on one of the biggest occasions in their short history.
A loss against Sydney hurts, if we ever lost against Adelaide (why haven't we played them yet?) it would hurt, but a loss against Heart hurts more than both of them. I now know the pain felt by a Boca Juniors fan when they lose to River Plate; the heartache of an Everton fan when they lose to their fellow Liverpudlians; or the despair of an Inter fan should they leave the San Siro with their rivals taking all three points. I could go on and on, but I guess I have made my point.
Derbies are what makes football great. For many fans getting one over your city rival is more important than winning the title. They also expect their team to lift for the occasion and that's what has left many Victory fans disappointed - our team simply didn't appear up for it. Too many times they were second to the ball, too many times after losing the ball there was no hunger to get it back and two times there was some pretty poor defending that resulted in the opposition finding the back of the net.
Even Ernie Merrick, who is often loathed to criticise his players (much to the frustration of fans), stepped out of character and labelled the performance as the worst of the season. Having seen all but one of our matches so far this season there is not too much argument from me on that one. And with a clash against the winless Sydney FC next weekend, he will need his players to lift if he wants to maintain their poor start to the season.
I don't do it often but here are some pointers that may be of benefit to the man in charge. If you have to play all of Muscat, Vargas and Leijer can we not have Leijer playing as a right back. He offers nothing in this position and it takes him away from where we need him most - in the centre of defence.
Stop the team from playing long balls to Ricardinho to compete against much bigger defenders. From what we have seen of him, he is at his best when running at defenders, so let's give him some balls to run on to. If he is going to play the Archie Thompson role, how about we give him the balls and the service that Thompson usually gets.
And finally, how about giving Marvin Angulo an extended run in the starting XI. In our previous match against Newcastle Jets, he was one of our best players. For him to not even make the bench on Friday night was truly mind boggling to say the least and surely can't do much for the player's confidence.
It is somewhat pleasing to know that we have two more chances this season to right the wrongs of Friday and in reality we all know that there's only one team in Melbourne.