Humbled Melbourne Victory players took criticism “on the chin” in a series of tough conversations as the former A-League heavyweights attempt to resurrect their flailing campaign.
Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Newcastle was Victory’s fifth loss from their opening seven matches to consign them to the bottom of the table.
Adding to the on-field struggles ahead of a cellar-dweller clash with Wellington at AAMI Park, foundation shareholder and board member Richard Wilson fired a parting shot upon quitting the club on Monday.
A position of turmoil is unfamiliar for the four-time champions but rookie coach Grant Brebner said the group was determined to turn the season around.
“We had little small groups yesterday; midfielders, defenders and attackers,” Brebner told reporters.
“Tough conversations, honest conversations and good conversations.
“Nobody’s under any illusion about where we’re at the moment.
“(The players) took it on the chin and acknowledged the things that were said.
“What’s been has been and thankfully we get another opportunity very quickly.”
Victory have scored a total of just five goals this season and Brebner declared things had to improve significantly in attack on Wednesday night against the Phoenix.
Star Marco Rojas will return from nasty facial lacerations in a major boost, although Storm Roux, Adama Traore and Nicholas Ansell will miss the clash after suffering injuries against the Jets.
After dropping skipper Leigh Broxham to the bench against the Jets, Brebner has again refused to guarantee the veteran a start.
“The performance the other night was good in patches but we need players standing up,” Brebner said.
“I don’t want to make it easy for players to keep their positions.”
The Phoenix’s record at AAMI Park is disastrous, with just four draws the only points to show from their last 10 outings at the venue.
Wellington’s last start was a 2-2 draw with Western Sydney on Sunday.