When Ljubo Milicevic and Archie Thompson missed breakfast on Saturday morning, who knew their absence would cause the controversy that has developed over the past few days. The incident has escalated into question marks over whether Milicevic still has a place at the Melbourne Victory.
The pair, who are close friends, went out on Friday night after the disappointing 4-1 loss to Adelaide United. Gary Cole, the Melbourne Victory’s operations manager, insisted that they “had not been drinking or acting in a manner that would bring criticism among the wider community.” (The Age) At the time of that writing, all we knew was that Milicevic and Thompson had both been suspended from training with the team. The official reason given by Cole was that it was “curfew stuff.”
An article in the Courier Mail today suggests that there may be even bigger ramifications for the players:
“As tensions at Victory yesterday came to a head, it is believed Thompson’s ‘partner in crime’ Ljubo Milicevic may be on his last chance at the club.
It is understood the coaching staff will front the Melbourne Victory board tomorrow night to demand Milicevic be released from his contract over his latest alleged misdemeanour.”
It’s well known that Milicevic hasn’t exactly had the best time at Melbourne. Besides picking up an injury in the first half against Wellington Phoenix back in round 1, there were also reports of locker-room tension between Milicevic and captain Kevin Muscat during pre-season. And now this.
Could the club really fire him for missing breakfast? Yes and no.
To be honest, I don’t think this is about the breakfast incident; nor is it about the “couple of beers” Archie and Ljubo had on Friday night. This is about Melbourne’s overall unhappiness with Milicevic’s performance, both on and off the pitch. Is it a coincidence that the “coaching staff” demanding Milicevic’s release includes Muscat, who is assistant coach? The club has previously insisted that the issues between Muscat and Milicevic earlier this year have been sorted out. That sounds decidedly false now.
Meanwhile, I’m sure Archie will walk away from this with a slap on the wrist, and no more. The Victory relies far too much on their star striker to be angry at him for very long.
Milicevic, on the other hand, looks, well… expendable.