Muscat walks away amid mass changes at Victory
MELBOURNE Victory have never known life without Kevin Muscat but soon will after the four-time A-League champion agreed an exit from the club.
Muscat, the club's foundation captain and longest serving coach, has decided the time is right to leave the A-League powerhouse and will depart after Wednesday's Asian Champions League (ACL) match with Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
That dead rubber is now transformed into an era-ending occasion, with Muscat, captain Carl Valeri and marquee Keisuke Honda to sign off.
Other players will also leave this off-season, but none with Muscat's gravitas.
Arriving at the club in 2005, the on-field bruiser set the tone for Victory's participation - uncompromising, brutal, passionate and above all successful.
No club has won more titles than Victory; though arch foes Sydney FC matched their haul of four championships on Sunday night when they defeated Perth Glory on penalties in the grand final.
Muscat led Victory on the field to the 2007 and 2009 titles as a player, and masterminded the 2015 and 2018 triumphs as coach.
"This is not a decision made overnight or taken lightly," Muscat said.
"I believe the time is right for me to refresh, and in time, seek a new opportunity after giving everything I've got emotionally and physically to Melbourne Victory over the last 14 years.
"We have created and earned many great memories along the way including our eight trophies.
"It goes without saying that I will love and support this football club and wish it nothing but success."
Muscat leaves at his own time but not on his own terms.
After winning his fourth title - and second as coach - last season, he convinced the Victory board to support a major tilt for the ACL this campaign.
Victory signed Honda, the club's first Asian star, using a hefty chunk of FFA marquee funds, only for the club to bomb in the continental competition.
Victory lost their opening three games to render the rest of their participation pointless, and those games weighed heavily on their A-League defence.
The same week that Muscat led a threadbare squad to a dead rubber in South Korea, he returned home to Sydney to lose their semi-final to Sydney FC 6-1 - the club's worst ever defeat.
On the eve of his 200th game in charge, the 45-year old Muscat told AAP in February he would assess his future at season's end.
"There will be time to reflect and sit down with people that I look up to. It will be at the end of the season," he said.
That reflection has told him to go.
"Kevin has been incredibly successful as both a player and coach and will go down as one of the most influential figures inMelbourne Victory's history," chairman Anthony Di Pietro said.
"The parting was an ongoing collaboration and unified decision, and we wish Kevin nothing but the best for his future."
Muscat is the sixth A-League coach to have left his club this season.
His exit leaves two-season Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick as the league's longest-serving boss.