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Jan 5, 2012

Victory axe Durakovic as new coach looms

A-League club Melbourne Victory say the appointment of a new coach is imminent following Mehmet Durakovic's sacking on Friday.

Former Socceroo Durakovic was axed just seven months into his tenure after the glamour club's poor first half of the season.

The Victory sit eighth in the 10-team competition, with losses in their past three matches giving them a record of three wins, six draws and five losses this season.

Club chairman Anthony Di Pietro announced the sacking at a media conference on Friday, saying assistant coach Kevin Muscat would take over as caretaker coach for Saturday's home match against Newcastle Jets.

But Di Pietro said Muscat was not a candidate to take over as head coach and an appointment could be made within 24 hours - maybe even prior to the Jets clash.

Former Socceroos coach Frank Farina, ex-Newcastle boss Branko Culina and former Perth Glory coach and ex-Socceroos assistant Ron Smith have all been mentioned as possible candidates.

The Victory have failed to gel so far this season despite a star-studded line-up including new acquisition Harry Kewell and have only really been competitive against the lower-ranked sides and fans were agitating for Durakovic to be sacked.

"We gave Mehmet every opportunity to achieve success this season but we found we were inconsistent and without direction," said Di Pietro.

"After 14 games, the club is in a position which isn't acceptable, and change is required."

He said Durakovic's position had been under review and the decision to axe him was not taken lightly.

Durakovic, who was on a two-year contract, was only appointed fulltime in June.

He had been caretaker coach following the board's surprise sacking in March of Ernie Merrick - the A-League's most successful coach who guided the club to two championships.

Durakovic had been the club's youth team coach.

The Victory board had been divided over his future as recently as November - Durakovic surviving a ballot calling for his removal by a single vote.

The new board was also responsible for the hiring and quick firing of football director Francis Awaritefe.

But Di Pietro defended the performance of his board and managing director Richard Wilson since taking over the club - once regarded as the competition's most stable and successful.

"In relation to recruitment, there's always risk," Di Pietro said.

"No matter how deep your due diligence and expert advice you receive, there is risk. In this case, what we're doing is being pro-active about the change we need to make."

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