Popovic leaves Melbourne Victory

A-League Mens Grand Final Media Opportunity
Tony Popovic has left Melbourne Victory after three seasons at the helm. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

A-League All-Stars boss Patrick Kisnorbo is the favourite to take charge of Melbourne Victory following the departure to Tony Popovic.

The Victory announced on Wednesday that Popovic had left the club after three seasons at the helm.

Speculation had been rife for the past couple of months that Popovic was set to depart due to a standoff between him and Victory over terms of a potential new coaching deal.

However, sources have told News Corp Australia that a falling out between Popovic and the Victory’s football director John Didulica ultimately led to the coach’s exit.

Popovic, who was close to accepting a substantial pay cut as part of the club tightening its financial belt, was understood to be furious that Didulica – who he played a part in bringing to the Victory – had been courting the services of former Melbourne City A-League title-winning coach Kisnorbo since last month.

It was the final straw for Socceroos stalwart Popovic, who less than a month after guiding the Victory to the A-League grand final, has gone.

Kisnorbo, who was in charge of the A-League All-Stars side that thrashed a third-string Newcastle United 8-0 last month, has been without a club job since he was sacked by French outfit Troyes in November last year.

A-League Semi Final Leg 1 - Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix
Tony Popovic and the Melbourne Victory have parted ways. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

In 40 games in charge of Troyes, Kisnorbo tasted victory on only three occasions.

News Corp Australia reported in April, when speculation about Popovic’s future intensified, that Kisnorbo was among the candidates to coach the Victory next season along with Adelaide United assistant Mark Milligan, Western United assistant Hayden Foxe and Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler.

Victory chairman John Dovaston praised Popovic – who also guided the club to Australia Cup glory during his three-season tenure – for the “lasting legacy” he would leave at the four-time A-League champions.

“Tony enlisted a winning culture which leaves the club in a better place than when he arrived, challenging for titles and using hard work, discipline and respect to drive outcomes,” Dovaston said.

“The next step for us is to find someone who will be a natural progression from Tony.

“He has set the foundations for us and we look forward to appointing a head coach who will be able to use those foundations and go one step further next season.”

Victory managing director Caroline Carnegie said Popovic had “left no stone unturned” in setting a “new standard” at the club.

“Winning the Australia Cup was testament to this new standard as we went agonisingly close to lifting more silverware in his first and third seasons at the club,” Carnegie said.

“For us at Melbourne Victory, this is a time where we believe the foundations have been laid for us to continue to take the club forward and to continue the progression we have made over the last three seasons.”