Grant Brebner facing mammoth task to return Melbourne Victory to the A-League summit

Grant Brebner is Melbourne Victory's new permanent head coach.

It caps off a remarkable number of months for the former Manchester United academy graduate, who has gone from taking on the role on an interim basis to see out the season, vociferously declaring that he was not a candidate for the full-time post, to being entrusted with arguably the biggest job in the A-League.

And needless to say, the task ahead of the Scotsman is a daunting one.

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Victory crashed to their lowest ever league position and points total this season, eclipsing the previous depths plumbed during their ill-fated 2011-12 campaign and leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of a fan base where trophies are considered the rule and not the exception.

As was the case in 2011-12, the club went through three coaches over the course of the season, with the ill-thought-out appointment of former Adelaide United head coach Marco Kurz leading to an early-season sacking and replacement with Kevin Muscat-era assistant Carlos Salvachúa, only for he, in turn, to depart midseason and be replaced by Brebner.

Back in 2011-12, Victory responded to their humiliation by going out and bringing title-winning Brisbane Roar coach Ange Postecoglou back to Melbourne but this time the club -- due to either the environment forced upon it by COVID-19 or a change in philosophical direction -- have opted instead to look internally; upgrading former youth coach Brebner from interim to permanent over the candidacies of former Melbourne Heart and Brisbane Roar coach John Aloisi and Yokohama F. Marinos assistant Arthur Papas.

It's a risky move, with the obvious question being why a coach that insisted he had more to learn just over a month ago is now suddenly suitable.

"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," Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro declared upon Brebner's appointment.

"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."

Culturally, Victory is a big A-League club that styles itself as simply a big club, carrying themselves as a glamorous, professional and powerful organisation that, on the pitch, plays an attractive and exciting brand of football.

It's an internal narrative that has often not been matched by reality but, as a club legend, Brebner will likely have a longer rope than most should the results or the style needed to feed that perception not arrive in a quick enough manner to placate the fanbase.

His knowledge of the inner workings of the club will also provide a further safety net, something that fellow club legend Muscat benefited from several times in his tenure and something Kurz was sorely lacking during his 13-game tenure.

But eventually, the rubber will have to meet the road and Brebner, despite the goodwill he will carry, will have to start delivering on-field results lest the fans, stung after missing finals for the first time in almost a decade, turn sour. It likely won't be said on the record by any team officials, but a return to the playoffs will likely be one of Brebner's key KPIs in his first season.

His ability to deliver this will likely heavily rest upon the decisions he and his football department -- set to feature new football general manager Drew Sherman, Paul Trimboli and Carl Valeri -- make when it comes to recruitment. Victory's playing stocks are relatively bare heading into the offseason, which is set to be significantly shorter than the majority of other A-League clubs due to upcoming Asian Champions League fixtures.

Marco Rojas, Robbie Kruse and Leigh Broxham highlight a select group of players that will remain under contract following Aug. 30, and with the uncertain landscape ahead of A-League's salary cap and future, adding bodies around them will be easier said than done.

Migjen Basha is the sole remaining international signing from a season ago still with the club -- more due to his two-year-deal than his actual performances -- and while Brebner said in his introductory press conference that he was already on the phone with European based players, the ability to bring international talent into Australia with current border restrictions in place will be a difficult proposition.

The addition of another team into the league in 2021 -- expansion side Macarthur FC -- is also set to drain the ranks of available Australian talent.

Nonetheless, it may not be all bad for Victory fans, with a number of industry sources telling ESPN that the club, alongside the likes of Sydney FC and Melbourne City, is seen as a safe(r) port in the storm amidst the uncertainty surrounding the league due to their financial position.

Furthermore, the club blooded eight youth prospects over the course of the 2019-20 season and Brebner, having spent six seasons as a part of Victory's youth setup, would ostensibly be better placed than any of the other candidates considered to integrate them into the team.

Di Pietro, in Brebner's introductory press conference, declared that he wanted his new coach to bring about a new dynasty. Only time will tell if the 42-year-old is up to the task.