It’s a pretty impressive CV when you look at it. A young German prodigy that played in the reigning world champion’s Under 19, 20 & 21 youth set-up. Almost half a decade on the books of a well respected Bundesliga club with a rich history that includes a European Cup win. Even a patent on a nifty little thing called a ‘Maxicup’ – a snack cup that allows you to carry a drink and food all in one easy-to-use cup.
Melbourne Victory fans were excited in October when the club signed the 26-year-old whiz kid inventor on a one-year loan deal from Mainz 05. However, since that time – almost three months ago – Maximillian Beister has hardly been sighted.
But somehow, even when Kevin Muscat remarked in late December that everyone would be required during a busy January, Beister has only been able to average less than four-and-a-half minutes on the pitch since the turn of the new year. In fact, since his arrival – and with his one and only starting berth against Western Sydney in early December taken out of the equation – Max averages a total of 8 minutes and 45 seconds per appearance. Hardly the return you want from a player taking up a foreign spot, is it?
But how did this all happen, and what happens from here? Let’s thrash it out; let’s go right back to the start.
WHY DID WE SIGN HIM?
After a somewhat disappointing title defence in season 2015/16, the Victory experienced a mini-exodus of talent over the off-season with 12 players leaving, including the loss of three foreign players in Gui Finkler and Kosta Barabarouses – who both went to Wellington Phoenix -and Matthieu Delpierre who retired after a successful season in which he claimed the 2015/16 Victory Medal, not to mention our very own MelbourneVictory.net Fans’ Player of the Year award.
The Vuck were able to replace two of the open foreign spots fairly quickly, signing Alan Baro and the returning Marco Rojas, but the backroom staff had some big intentions for their last remaining place – they wanted to make a splash using the newly implemented ‘Tim Cahill Rule’.
Unfortunately, though, a deal for Michael Essien fell through at the 11th hour, and a request for Alessandro Diamanti to be included as a third marquee was rejected by the FFA.
These failures left Victory without a fifth and final foreign player heading into the season. The question was then posed: do you go after someone now and bring them in, or do you wait until January and attempt to make another go at it? The former was chosen, and Maximillian Beister packed his bags, headed for AAMI Park.
DID WE NEED HIM?
Going into the start of the season the Victory boasted one of the most threatening attacking combinations in the A-League. In addition to current all-time league scoring record holder Besart Berisha, Melbourne signed Marco Rojas, James Troisi and Mitch Austin. Combined with the fact that Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Jai Ingham and (to a much, much lesser extent) George Howard already being on the squad, was the question not asked by the coaching staff: with these players already at our disposal, with this depth, where was Beister actually going to fit? Did we really need a seventh attacking player?
IS HE ACTUALLY ANY GOOD?
One could argue that if you’re good enough – especially if you’ve played multiple seasons in one of the best leagues in the world – regardless of how many attacking players we have, you should be able to force your way in and demand a spot. The jury is still out on this, though.
As Victory fans, we just haven’t seen enough of him on the pitch, but from the look of his YouTube highlights from his time in Germany, it appears as though Beister thrives when he is playing centrally. So far, in the limited time he has been on the pitch, Maxi has played in a variety of different roles, including out wide and as a box-to-box midfielder.
There’s no chance that Muscat will be changing the formation to play two strikers, so the only alternative would be to make a straight swap for Besart Berisha each game. The only problem with that? Well, Berisha averages over 84 minutes per game in Victory colours. Even if Maxi was to play in his preferred position, he’s still not going to get enough time to impact matches.
THE SHIFT IN ATTITUDE
Maxi was signed with some question marks over his attitude amongst German football fans, and there’s little doubt that the feelings internally towards the German forward has changed since he was signed in October.
At the beginning, Kevin Muscat played a cautious approach, realising that it would be difficult for a player to come in who hadn’t played football in months.
However, by January it appeared as though patience may have started to wear thin, with Muscat saying on January 5 that Beister must earn his minutes, hinting that his fitness was still not up to speed. Subsequently, after Muscat spoke on Beister, he was left out of the following two match day squads altogether against Adelaide and Brisbane.
With queries on his fitness not being up to par, and limited minutes on the pitch, Victory fans have seen Beister spend more time at other sporting events like the NBL and Australian Open than he does at the A-League. Is he just here on an extended holiday?
Despite all of the above – let’s face it: last two results aside, the team is winning and playing consistent football, and every Victory fan would take that even if Maxi doesn’t play another minute, but the fact that he did take up a foreign spot means that questions need to be asked. Beister’s arrival seemed to coincide with the winning streak and appeared to have spurned some of the players on, like FBK, into form. It’s very tough to get into a side that is playing the quality of football Melbourne have produced over the past two months.
Unfortunately though, whether it’s the fault of the backroom staff who didn’t need to sign another attacking player, or if it’s the fault of Beister who is not working hard enough behind the scenes to demand more time on the field, the fact is, Maxi is on trajectory to go down as one of the biggest busts in Victory history considering his pedigree.
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Every time Maximillian Beister is subbed onto the pitch he is in a race against time to make an impact.
Now, moving into the second half of the season, the time is ticking before he inevitably returns to Europe.
Stats courtesy of ultimatealeague.com
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