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Victory target Phoenix coach and former Sydney FC star Talay for rebuild

Former Sydney FC star and Wellington coach Ufuk Talay is being targeted by Melbourne Victory to join the club at the start of next season with the struggling A-League giants anchored to the bottom of the table.

Victory have picked up just seven points from 12 games but it the club has remained vocal in its backing of head coach Grant Brebner, who was only appointed at the start of the season. However, that support is unlikely to last beyond the current campaign if results don’t significantly improve. Sources close to the club suggest Victory have already begun looking for a long-term replacement for next season with Talay identified as the man they want to rejuvenate the biggest club in the A-League.

Ufuk Talay is tipped to take charge of Melbourne Victory next season.

Ufuk Talay is tipped to take charge of Melbourne Victory next season.Credit:Getty

Regarded as one of the rising stars of Australian coaching, Talay flourished in his two seasons with the Phoenix, guiding the New Zealanders to an equal-club record third-place finish last year. While results have not been as consistent this season, they have performed admirably while permanently relocated in Wollongong due to travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, his Phoenix side made light work of Brebner’s Victory, inflicting a 4-1 loss upon the cellar-dwellers on Wednesday night.

Talay has long been on the radar of Victory, who tried to sign him at the end of last year, but the coach could not get an early release from the final year of his deal with Wellington.

He is now in the final months of his contract and is free to negotiate a move for next season, but Victory aren’t the only club in the race for his signature. Phoenix are eager to keep hold of Talay and have already began talks for a contract extension.

Talay has a strong association with Victory’s oldest rivals, having won the the inaugural A-League title with Sydney FC as a player in 2006 before leading the club to another title as an assistant coach to Steve Corica in the 2018/19 season.

Asian Champions League-winning coach Tony Popovic was also sounded out for the Melbourne Victory job last year and the former Socceroos defender is once again being touted as a leading contender.

Victory officials are reluctant to make a move on Brebner, believing the season is already shot to pieces and little could be solved with wholesale changes at the midpoint of the campaign.

Numerous Victory sources have confirmed that the club is not prepared to dump Brebner, although there is a possibility newly appointed assistant coach Jean Paul De Marigny, the one-time Western Sydney Wanderers coach and former Victory assistant, could take on a greater role in supporting the inexperienced Brebner.

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