All I want for Christmas…

City-Victory

The benefit of life in a small league is that re-matches come around quickly, so City fans haven’t had to wait long for a chance to address our mauling at the hands of Victory in October. So will Santa appear at AAMI park tomorrow night to magically deliver an early present to our club? It’ll take a lot more than Santa’s intervention to land a win, but let’s look at our chances.

Where is City’s season at?

A third of the way into the 2014/15 season, City’s season hangs in the balance. Since we posted a call for a reality check in late November about what the club was doing right and where we were going wrong, the team rebounded with a long overdue home win over Brisbane Roar. With a game in hand due to Western Sydney’s overseas adventure, our 7th placing looks respectable, however we need to quickly build on our 9 points to stay in touch with those teams competing for 4th, 5th and 6th places. Perth, Victory and FFA cup winners Adelaide and possibly Sydney FC all look too strong to let others into the top 3 places, even if their mid-season form dips for a bit.

After our home loss to Sydney then thrashing in Wellington, JVS must have finally realised that player changes were necessary. It was good to see Velaphi given a go in goals at last and our leaky defence reworked with the inclusion of young Connor Chapman. These young talents that we have, like Garuccio and Melling, are proving they’re hungry to play to get themselves a regular spot. It boosts the fans morale too to see young players coming through; without wanting to sound ageist, we need the hope that younger guys bring when, with a few exceptions, the club has depended too much for a few years now on players over 30 and generally past their best. Tomorrow night our marquee man Robbie Koren is set to finally appear to prove that he’s not in that category.

What’s our chances vs Victory?

We have to get real once again and note how strong Victory is this season, with a squad of some depth, plenty of goal scoring power and they’re the only undefeated team in the league. But this is a derby! Victory’s unbeaten run can’t go on indefinitely and the Melbourne derby at home would be City’s best chance to stop them regardless of current form. Milligan is suspended and Sydney showed that Victory’s midfield can be outplayed. We have Mooy in fantastic form and Melling has really added an edge to our play. If Williams can rediscover his goal scoring touch, and our defenders use their strength in set pieces like last derby, then City has every chance to take 3 much-needed points. I think we’ll do it this time round.

Go City!

Melbourne City: Let’s get real!

Let’s get real, fellow Melbourne City friends. We know the media and most betting sites hyped us up in the pre-season and put Melbourne City as favourites to win this season. City even won its first ever pre-season friendly against another A-League club!That sugar high of the pre-season had many of us up in the sky dreaming of what could be. But the current reality couldn’t be more different. Let’s break it down:

The Club:
Since the new owners have taken over a lot has been going on in the background that we don’t get to see. We’ve heard our new owners have been injecting money into infrastructure, school programs and a soccer academy, all of which will help create a strong club…in the future. The new owners look like they are putting money in creating a solid foundation that any successful club needs. But these will take time and Heart never had capital to be able to invest properly into these essentials.

The playing squad and Coach:
We picked up some great players during the off season, particularly Duff, Mooy and Paartalu. These guys are playing well for our team but the potential they offer hasn’t translated into better overall performances by the team. Unfortunately and incredibly it seems the club didn’t think to regenerate our defensive stocks or even our striking department. This lack of quality and depth has cost the team points and left fans understandably disappointed and angry, judging by the current debates on social media.

There’s also that sense of the Heart’s deficiencies lingering on through this season. It will take time to shape a new mentality in the team. In the meantime it’s hard watching the mistakes and inability to take charge of a game for the full 90 minutes. Allowing the Mariners to come back and snatch that 2-2 draw at home recently was just typical of critical games in previous seasons.

The City group have a world wide scouting network, which we hope they start using to greater effect. We will eventually get a quality squad that you would expect will rival the top clubs in the A-League. You cannot imagine City Group would want to waste time and money on a system which is not successful!

The pressure on John van’t Schip will continue to build, who has now come out and said no-one’s place in the team is guaranteed. We can only hope he means what he says and gets ruthless with those who are underperforming and gives others a genuine chance. The City group will not handle being bottom feeders and will be looking for the next coach that will take the team to the next level.

The Active Supporters and GA supporters:
We have record membership and great crowd attendance. Our active supporters group, the Melburnians, are new  too. They create the atmosphere and they are still working on their set pieces and formats. They are trying hard and trying to incorporate the GA – which sort of works some home games.

Like the club they too are a work in progress and will also take time to gel and work themselves out. When they do, seeing the three Active bays all in sync and chanting will look and sound great and will naturally see a flow on effect across the GA.

Let’s all remember we are Melbourne City and we have history. Yes it might be only four years and that’s a spec in time. But all us old Heart supporters went through lots of hard yards with the struggling club to get to where we are now. We cannot forget this and we shouldn’t! To be successful we need to remember where we come from and embrace it.

We can embrace and incorporate all that is old along with the new.
Let’s all cheer our club in red, white and sky blue!

We are Melbourne City!

What does all this mean?
Most successful clubs take time and money, along with the right management at the top and a coach who can build a team hungry to succeed. The City Group are building, investing and setting the infrastructure for what a great club needs to be the best. Unfortunately these all take time and we will have to ride out the transition period on the road to being a power house club that we all want.

Go City this Sunday at home against the Roar, the one and only side we’ve beaten this season. Getting another win will restore team confidence and may be help fans believe this squad has what it takes to not settle for mediocrity.

Melbourne City Vs Sydney FC: Match Preview

City-Sydney

Well, City should be heading into this weekend’s game against Sydney FC on the back of a home win. Two goals and 23 shots at goal proved to be not enough, with Central Coast Mariners taking away the win from us in the dying minutes. The old Heart ways of conceding a lead came back to haunt us. It would have been great to see City fight for another goal, like they did against the Roar.

The big positive I took away from last match was Damian Duff. He has been a fantastic pick up for the club this year. What impressed me was when he rushed right up to Ramsey during the second half and gave him a passionate verbal spray about defending that left back area. It’s great seeing how passionate Duff is playing for City.

Stats VS Sydney FC (W/D/L): 4/6/3
(Stats taken from Ultimate A-League web site)

Sydney is one of the in-form sides at the moment and will be tough to beat. They have not lost a match so far this season and in the last few matches have drawn against the other top teams Adelaide and our cross town rivals. Graham Arnold is a great A-League coach and Sydney did well in recruiting him this season.

Melbourne City need to lift for the full 90+ minutes for this match. We have the players, they just need to fight for the win. This match is going to be tough but I don’t see a reason why we couldn’t win it. Dugandzic is in scoring form at last and our new young recruits like Melling and Brown look hungry to impress.

Good news is that we are sitting in sixth spot after six rounds, which at this point in time is a good spot to be. Other teams at the moment are struggling, we just need to keep our form (and keep it for more than one half) and with returning players and our marquee players coming in soon, our side is developing in the right direction.

Checking my magic eight ball with the question “Will Melbourne City win against Sydney?”, the eight ball replied with “Yes – Definitely”. I hope the magic eight ball is right and I’m picking that result too.

Go City!

Melbourne City VS Central Coast Mariners: Preview

City-Mariners

Firstly it was great being able to watch City vs Roar on SBS last Saturday night. Well done to the A-League, Foxtel and SBS for working that out. I am guessing it could be because of the Asian Cup in January there won’t be as many Friday night games as last season.

Anyway, how was last week? The prospect of being Brisbane Roar’s first victim of the season was scary and going by the past history of our club, it seemed certain. But Melbourne City played a good solid match and it was fitting that our club’s first win under the new owners came against the reigning champions. You can read our full review of the match here.

Stats VS Central Coast Mariners (W/D/L): 1/3/8
(Stats taken from Ultimate A-League web site)

Our form against Central Coast, even at AAMI park, has never been good. However, they seem to be a different club this season. The only win for the Mariners so far was in the first round against Newcastle Jets, with the winning goal from Duke in the 90″ minute.

I think I have worked out Melbourne City’s recruitment policy – players have to have beer names! First Duff and now Miller! Liam Miller is on a short loan, with Mooy and Mauk on international duties and Koren, Germano and Murdocca injured.

City took the advantage early last week and held firm in the second half so it will be interesting to see if they can back it up with our first home win for the season. We will need another solid performance over 90 minutes to make sure we get over the struggling Mariners. It would also be fitting to have our first home win over the Mariners seeing that they were the very first team we played in the A-League and we lost that one.

I’m sure all City fans are eager to see a winning home performance from the club, it’s long overdue.

Go City!

Brisbane Roar 1-3 Melbourne City: Match Review

Brisbane-City

It has been a while since we’ve witnessed Melbourne City win an A-League game. In fact, we hadn’t won one since March when we were still known as Melbourne Heart. Fans were losing hope after having plenty of it before the season kicked off. Winless after four games, City had been put under pressure by pundits, the media and its supporters. But it was eight minutes into the match at Suncorp Stadium against the champions of last season, who were without a point this season, when things started to change.

Patrick Kisnorbo’s long ball from defence led to an opportunity that was surprisingly grasped given our history with missed chances. The ball fell to Mate Dugandzic who set up David Williams for the opener. The goal still left City fans feeling that we’d lose the lead, similarly to the past two weeks. However, just two minutes later, the tide had seemed to turn. Erik Paartalu’s brilliant ball played through Dugandzic who this time took it all the way and finished clinically to extend the lead.

Melbourne City fans, including myself, became shocked. The last time we took a two goal lead was incidentally when we won our last game; in the third derby of last season. However, fans continued to expect a comeback from the Roar but they went into the half time break without pulling a goal back.

Aaron Mooy was once again the outstanding performer in the first term and has quickly become a fan favourite due to his hard work and quality on the ball. Andrew Redmayne also impressed as he pulled off a couple of great saves in a half that saw the visitors opt to play a more counter attacking brand of football as opposed to a possession based one that has been utilised as part of the CFG brand.

The second half saw a debut for 19-year-old Jacob Melling who almost scored within seconds as link up play led to a shot on target for the midfielder. A goal finally came for Brisbane as numerous attacks led to their first. It was a rather fortuitous goal as a shot by McKay had come off Borrello’s head forcing a change of direction, leaving Redmayne with no chance.

It was almost inevitable that the home side would score but they never looked like equalising. Melbourne City continued to hang on to a one goal lead until Aaron Mooy started a counter attack as he spun his marker before producing a wonderful pass to James Brown who set up Marc Marino who came on to score his first ever A-League goal. The 18-year-old celebrated along with the City fans as they knew know that three points beckoned.

The final whistle was blown and the first victory as Melbourne City was achieved. It’s a win that has brought confidence to some fans and hopefully the players as the season started horribly. It was a different style employed by John van’t Schip but it proved to be more effective than the past month of football. However, how will JvS go about the round 6 clash with Central Coast who will not leave many gaps in defence unlike the Roar? We’ll find out next Sunday at AAMI Park!