Hopkins: We have to find a way to adapt

by Ben Gilby (12/3/23)

Above: Melbourne Victory head coach Jeff Hopkins, who is excited about the challenge of taking on Melbourne City tomorrow. Image: Melbourne Victory.

Melbourne Victory head coach Jeff Hopkins recognises that his team face major challenges ahead after Elise Kellond-Knight’s season-ending injury, but backs them to show the discipline and organisation required to gain victory in tomorrow’s derby against Melbourne City.

Speaking to the media today ahead of that huge encounter, Hopkins outlined the implications of the Matildas star’s injury saying: “Everyone at the club is really devastated for KK personally. This is a big blow for her, not just missing the season for us, but implications for the national side at the World Cup too.

“It’s a big blow for us as a club. We have to find a way to adapt and adjust the way we play to take advantage of other players’ strengths that we may be able to bring in in place of her. She had her operation a couple of days ago which went well, but we’re all about supporting her in her rehab.”

Kellond-Knight’s injury comes hot on the heels of Victory losing another hugely influential international midfielder, Alex Chidiac, whose loan spell from Racing Louisville has ended. Whilst Hopkins recognises that these are huge losses, he pointed to young stars that the club has in that area.

“We had strong depth in the midfield. Paige (Zois) ‘Murph’ (Alana Murphy) and Tiff (Eliadis). All of them were making a case to play. That depth is tested now. There will be opportunities. For me now, I need to see where they fit into the side, and I need to tinker with that. They have different strengths to ‘Chids’ and KK, so I need to take advantage of those.”

Above: Paige Zois and Alana Murphy – two of Melbourne Victory’s talented young midfielders. Photo: Melbourne Victory

Also missing from the Melbourne Victory squad tomorrow will be their Young Matildas trio Alana Murphy, Jesskia Nash, and Ava Breidis who do not arrive back into Australia until late today after a journey of over 30 hours in returning from international duty.

All of the current top four sides are being seriously tested by injuries, but the Victory boss does not believe that this is the consequence of a longer A-League Women season. “Adding six weeks onto the season is not a massive ask and we’re still four or five weeks out from finishing the season.

“Next season, maybe we need to think about the makeup of the contracted period to maybe…think about a longer pre-season period. This season is six weeks longer but our pre-season was one week shorter.”

With the race for fourth place being intense, with potentially four sides battling it out at present, ultimately Hopkins doesn’t see any pressure on his side. They are in the box seat with their hopes in their own hands.

“The results went for us yesterday, but it’s of no consequence to us. It’s about tomorrow’s game, putting in a good performance and beating City. Fourth place is what we are after at the moment, and until that is secured we don’t think about anything else, none of the teams around us.

“When we secure fourth, we then look about making third, second…The focus on us is we need to be better. We need to be positive. We are up against a good quality side, but a side that if we do things properly, correctly, we have a good chance of being successful.”

Above: Tomorrow’s game is a big challenge for Jeff Hopkins and his team, but its one he is looking forward to. Photo: Melbourne Victory.

Tomorrow’s game poses Melbourne Victory all sorts of challenges. It’s a cross-city derby, it’s a battle of third against fourth, and a test against a side that goes all out to dominate possession. Hopkins is excited by the opportunity that the game poses and believes his side has all the tools necessary to come out on top, whilst having huge respect for Dario Vidosic’s team.

“They (Melbourne City) are a very good young side who are very positive in the way they go about the game. They play the way I like to. They like to possess the ball and go forward. They will take risks and are a team that if you sit off them, they will create chances against you no matter how organised you are defensively.

“We need to take advantage of them and be as positive as possible. Against them last time, we played well and were disciplined in our middle and deep block, but they still managed to create chances that, on another day, would have seen them beat us.

“We’re going to push forward at them, push high as high up the field as possible. We need to win this game. We will be as positive as we can and in those moments that we can’t be positive, be orgainised and work hard for each other as a team.”

Hopkins also highlighted the multiple threats that the Sky Blues have in their side, with Chilean magician Cote Rojas a huge part of that. “It will be interesting to see where they play her. The City front five are fluid. Wilkinson moves, Rojas will drop deep, they (also) have (Holly) McNamara (available) now.”

That constant movement and rotating of City’s front five is a factor that Hopkins highlighted, along with the expectations that he has of his own team to combat it.

“When (City) players drop off into pockets and rotate, the (Victory) players in those areas need to be switched on. This will be a one-on-one battle. There is a lot of rotation and movement in their front five which makes them a lot more dangerous too.”

For Ben Gilby‘s report on Melbourne City head coach Dario Vidosic’s media conference ahead of tomorrow’s Melbourne derby, click on this link: https://impetusfootball.org/2023/03/10/a-league-women-news-4/

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: