15/08/2022

Jake Brimmer celebrates a goal in the first leg of the semi-final. Photo: @gomvfc/Twitter Design: Will Cuckson

Coming into the 2021/22 season, a major improvement was expected of Tony Popovic's side, but not many would have expected a semi-final berth.

The 2021/22 season was one of genuine progression from Melbourne Victory as the boys in blue went from last place to semi-finalists.

Coming into the season with new man Tony Popovic at the helm, the Victory sat atop the A-League ladder after the first eight games. Despite a speedbump shortly after the success of the FFA Cup, Melbourne got themselves back on track, finishing the season with a 15-match undefeated streak.

Ultimately, the Victory finished second on the table, missing out on the top spot by just one point to rivals Melbourne City. This gave the Victory a first-week bye in the finals before a disastrous second leg showing against Western United brought their campaign to a close.

The Highs

Perhaps the biggest positive of season 2021/22 for Melbourne was off the field, with some key moves made, including the acquisition of Tony Popovic as head coach. Last season, Victory supporters made it very clear they were unhappy with the head coach, protesting at the club’s training ground.

But in season 2021/22, the Victory fans were back in full force. With the club playing far more attacking football, and continuing to score goals, the noise was well and truly brought back to the terraces at AAMI Park. It was once again a nightmare for opposition sides to face Victory away from home.

Melbourne Victory players celebrate a win with the fans. Photo: melbournevictory.com.au

On the field, one of the best aspects of the season was defeating arch-rivals Adelaide United twice, both times on the road. After being defeated by Adelaide on a number of occasions last season, pride was on the line for Victory fans, and it would take seven points for the season. The boys in blue also claimed five points from cross-town rivals Melbourne City, giving fans plenty to look forward to in the coming seasons.

Most pleasingly, the Victory fans surprised many this season and can take massive positives from the fact it was just one win away from making the A-League Grand Final, and just one point away from clinching the plate.

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The Lows

After a brilliant start to the season, and an FFA Cup victory, Melbourne had a drop in form, losing three fixtures in a row within the space of a week. Losses to Wellington, Newcastle, and Western Sydney meant the side lost some confidence, but to its credit, responded strongly and got the season back on track.

Without a doubt, the most disappointing moment of the Victory’s season was its disastrous second-leg performance in the semi-final against Western United.

Having taken a 1-0 lead in the first leg in an ‘away’ fixture, the boys in blue were hot favourites to march on to the Grand F. However, the second leg could not have been worse if it tried.

After conceding early, Western United would level the scores on aggregate, before a goal to superstar Jake Brimmer had the Victory back in front. This would unfortunately be short-lived as a second-half blitz from the visitors meant Melbourne would bow out in stunning fashion.

MVP

One of the major reasons to Melbourne’s revival in season 2021/22 was the emergence of Jake Brimmer who re-assured football watchers how bright his future really is.

Brimmer showed his versatility, scoring seven goals for the season, and assisting seven goals as he showed how much of a vital cog he is within the midfield.

This would lead to Brimmer being awarded the Johnny Warren Medal as the competition’s best player. Brimmer is the youngest player to win the award since 1995 and is the first Australian to win the award in seven seasons.

Unsurprisingly, the superstar midfielder also claimed the Victory Medal, as well as the Victory Players’ Player.

Breakout Player

In one of the best stories of the year, boyhood fan Nishan Velupillay was a brilliant breakout player for the Victory, showing he is going to be one to watch for many years to come.

Despite only scoring two goals and assisting one, it was the pace and energy of Velupillay late in games which gave opposition sides so many problems. Velupillay started in just four games this season, but it is highly expected fans will see more of him in years to come.

This was also noticed by Tony Popovic and the rest of the hierarchy as he took out the Young Player of the Year Award for the Victory.

The Final Word

The 2021/22 season will be a campaign the Victory won’t be forgetting about any time soon. With a rejuvenated side on the park under new coach Tony Popovic, the club fought incredibly hard to bring joy back to the supporters.

In the coming seasons, the Victory will be looking to build on the massive amount of progress that was made in season 2021/22. After all, the Victory was just one half from its first Grand Final appearance since 2018.

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