Melbourne City: 2014-15 Season Review

The season is over. Bitter cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory ended up the league premiers and the champions. Melbourne City on the other hand, in their first season under the new ownership and new name, fell short of the expectations given prior to the campaign. Inconsistent performances led us to 5th position (6th if it wasn’t for Perth’s punishment). Was it a successful season? I don’t think so overall, despite scraping into the finals and winning our first finals game. But regardless, we’ll reminisce about our roller coaster of a season as I look back at the best (and worst) of Melbourne City in 2014-15.

Best Performance:
Round 19 vs Adelaide 3-1:

Although it was a relatively poor first half in this match, the drastic shift in performance level was amazing for the second. Safuwan scored his first goal for the club from a corner that set the crowd alight before Josh Kennedy also scored his inaugural goal as he headed home to hit the lead. The match was later sealed with a rare Iain Ramsay finish minutes before the full time whistle.

Best moment:
Paartalu goal vs Victory:

Truly spectacular this was. It’s a moment that fans dream about (too bad I was overseas and hence couldn’t attend it). 0-0. 90th minute. Ball is lobbed in by Dugandzic for Erik Paartalu to score the header to win the derby.

Surprise outstanding player:
Tando Velaphi

Last season, there was very little positive reaction to the signing of former Victory goalkeeper Tando Velaphi. Having signed merely as a back-up to Andrew Redmayne, nothing was expected of him. However, after round 8’s dismal display against Wellington, Velaphi started the following week. He kept a clean sheet in his first start of the season; our first for the season. From then on, he proved vital in our major improvement throughout the season. The 28-year-old kept an amazing nine clean sheets from just 19 starts – the equal highest for the season. Producing memorable saves to keep us in games or to keep us in the lead, Tando did it all. Undoubtedly a surprising key player as we were able to make the finals.

Disappointing player:
Robert Koren:

Besart Berisha, Thomas Broich, Marcelo Carrusca, Marc Janko. These are the marquee players who constantly deliver for their team. Unfortunately, Robi Koren just hasn’t worked out for Melbourne City. Admittedly, he scored a hattrick in his first start against Newcastle. But the Slovenian midfielder failed to be a catalyst for City. Often going missing in matches and his inability to make an impact were major reasons why fans believe his performances have been way below par given his status. It is unsure whether Koren will remain at the club but there’s no doubt that Melbourne City need a marquee player who will dominate and win matches on his own at times.
Best young player:
Jacob Melling:

Signed on a youth contract after having just featured just nine times for Adelaide United, Melling would develop as a fine midfielder in his first season for City. Immediately becoming a fan favourite due to the composure and aggression shown in the middle of the park, the now 20-year-old is someone who fans would love to start each week given he remains injury free. We could definitely expect to see Melling become one of the best Australian midfielders in the league if he continues to replicate his performances this season.
Connor Chapman: If we forget some of the poor displays by our defenders towards the back end of the season, we’ll appreciate the efforts of the former Newcastle Jets centre half. He was unbeatable at the back on some occasions as a result of his terrific defensive positioning and ability to carry the ball out of defence with full confidence. Chapman has a case of glandular fever that isn’t easy to be rid of as it kept him out of the side early in the season and could perhaps continue to affect him. Nevertheless, fans have seen that he can become a top defender for City and the league.

We also hope to see Ben Garuccio, Marc Marino and Stefan Mauk regularly next season and injury free.

Best goals:
1. Harry Novillo vs WSW: https://youtu.be/kDzK4iN_FMI?t=1m2s

2. Aaron Mooy vs Perth Glory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoiMjSFuzn8

3. Aaron Mooy vs WSW: https://youtu.be/s7ygOF5tH-o?t=4m48s

For all of Melbourne City’s goals this season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2VDmFmpYH0

Best Player:

Aaron Mooy

Well, what a season for Aaron Mooy. Having arrived from Western Sydney, no one came close to matching his dominant performances almost every week for City. He recorded 7 goals and 8 assists throughout the season (most for each) but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. His immense work rate, exquisite passing range, composure, ability to dictate the match and reliability were and hopefully will continue to be major factors for his success. He deservedly took out the award for our best player of the season.

Well there we have it – some of the key things we can take away from the season. A clearing out of players has begun, with club releasing long-serving forward Mate Dugandzic as well as Iain Ramsay. It is no surprise that Damian Duff and Rob Wielaert won’t be back, both being at the end of their playing days. Kew Jalien’s experience will be missed though he too is near the end of his career. Let’s hope the club can sign major players who can lead us to bigger and better things for the next season, including a bigger supporter base. It will be a long wait for the 2015-16 campaign when we can see Melbourne City once again compete in the A-League and hopefully challenge for top spot.

Come on City!

 

Elimination Final Review: Wellington Phoenix 0 – 2 Melbourne City

Wellington-City

Finals football. Due to a very poor run going into this match, most Melbourne City fans had little hope in the lead up. The team had lost the last two matches of the season away from home against Perth Glory and Adelaide United causing plenty of worry.

Melbourne City lined up as follows:

                              Velaphi

Retre        Chapman       Kisnorbo       Germano

                    Mooy   Koren   Paartalu

   Williams             Kennedy                Novillo

The absence of a single natural full back added to the issues as Jack Clisby was out with an injury, while Safuwan Baharudin was sent back home due to a back injury. The match had started with no real intensity but the home side were first to threaten to take the lead. An early bit of work from Nathan Burns allowed him to strike one from outside the area only for it to go wide.

However, City found room shortly after as Koren played a great ball to David Williams who had time and space but the 27-year-old was not composed enough to get a convincing shot away. A great set-piece variation that was definitely practiced on the training ground almost allowed Harry Novillo to strike home but his effort was blocked. It seemed as though City were looking hungry.

Michael McGlinchey’s free kick had struck the top of the crossbar causing danger for Tando Velaphi. The half-time whistle was blown after a fairly even contest that had not balanced in either team’s favour yet.

Several minutes into the second half, the game took a drastic turn, fortunately in the favour of the visitors. Josh Kennedy received two brilliant deliveries in the space of two minutes that were both put wide. It was Germano at left back who had come on to his favoured right foot to produce two brilliant crosses for the big man. However, it remained scoreless.

Only two minutes later though Harry Novillo, who had been causing trouble on the left wing, strolled into the danger area before sliding back to Aaron Mooy whose shot was eventually turned in by Josh Kennedy. It was an unbelievable moment as City had taken the lead but there was still plenty of work to be done.

Wellington wanted to push forward but failed to test the City defence and goalkeeper. It led to a counter attack for Melbourne City where Paulo Retre had delivered to Novillo before the Frenchman’s shot was deflected onto the post and off goalkeeper Glen Moss’ back – into the net! A fortunate but nonetheless historic moment for City. Their lead was doubled and seemed all but certain to advance into the semi-finals.

The home side were unable to get back in the game. As the final whistle was blown, City were through. We had booked a semi final against our cross town rivals – Melbourne Victory vs Melbourne City at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, something City fans thought they could only dream of.

Come on City!

 

 

 

 

Melbourne City vs Brisbane Roar 1-0 Review

City-Brisbane

The stage was set at AAMI Park for a massive showdown that would incidentally be very much a six-pointer.

Melbourne City: Played 22 matches. 6th. 30 points

Brisbane Roar: Played 21 matches. 7th. 25 points

A win for City would increase the gap to 8 points as we headed into the tail-end of the season knowing that a finals position is a must. Coming off two consecutive impressive victories against Newcastle and Sydney, we were in good form and having not lost in 7 appearances at AAMI Park, nothing but a win would be acceptable.

Josh Kennedy returned from injury and was immediately at the heart of the action. A ball from Koren in the opening moments of the match saw our Australian marquee man rise to meet it with his head, only to somehow be kept out allowing Jonatan Germano to tap it in for the early lead.

It begged the thought of whether it could be a massively dominant result but it was anything but. City opted to sit back for the majority of the match after the goal which provided the Roar with plenty of possession. James Brown, last week’s match winner, suffered an injury which brought him off and was replaced by Harry Novillo.

Brisbane looked the more threatening as they tested the Melbourne City defence but another brilliant performance by the pairing of Kisnorbo and Jaliens stopped most of their attacks. Tando Velaphi also failed to put a foot wrong once again and kept out every shot that hit him.

The second half continued to see a conservative City side that still had a few chances to kill off the game. Novillo and Germano both saw their attempts fly off target. Fortunately, despite having plenty of the ball, the Roar did not create any clear chances which kept off much of the stress for the home fans and the counter attacks that City were relying on couldn’t be thrived on.

Novillo once again picked up the ball in space in his own defence before striding on towards the other end. He ignored the option Koren provided on the left and opted to shoot himself which allowed a comfortable save for Young in goals.

In the end the three points were ours. However, they weren’t gained in the expected fashion. Fans wanted to see an attacking showcase to provide excitement but City displayed very little of it. Perhaps a while ago (like against CCM in round 6) we would’ve given up a goal late in the match as the team sat deep piling on the pressure, but we were able to win ‘ugly’ similar to last week against Sydney.

The win was the third successive victory and finals, unless an immensely disappointing run-in to the end of the season awaits, seems certain. But will we make it beyond the first round – elimination final?

Sydney FC vs Melbourne City 0-1 Review

Sydney-City

A win was a must at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium on Friday night and the odds were stacked against Melbourne City. Although we were entering the match after a 4-0 drubbing of Newcastle Jets at home the previous week, fans still had very little hope. We witnessed two very poor consecutive away losses against CCM and WSW, so the supporters couldn’t have been blamed for the lack of optimism.

A major threat coming into the game for Sydney FC was Austrian striker Marc Janko who recently broke the record for most consecutive matches with a goal in the A-League. But who would have thought that after scoring in seven successive games, that City would not allow the marquee striker to stretch it to eight?

The home side however looked the far more dangerous side. Janko had the first major chance, with the ball played in behind the defence only for his shot to cannon off the post and out of the danger area. Our first opportunity arrived after a delightful ball was played by Aaron Mooy who, despite slipping, had met Germano’s head only for the Argentine’s looping header to fly over and wide of the goal.

Sydney dominated the remainder of the half by getting themselves into great positions. However, although they easily broke through the City defence, they failed to test Velaphi. In the latter stage of the half, Koren had a chance as he stabbed at the ball with the outside of his boot before Janjetovic tipped it onto the crossbar and over for a corner.

The boys in red and white looked lively after the break as an early chance fell to Mate Dugandzic before he quite disappointingly skied the ball over the goal. But the hosts further caused trouble in our penalty area.

Bernie Ibini almost put his side in the lead as Velaphi failed to come out of his area to clear the ball which Ibini was able to hit on target. Fortunately our goalkeeper somehow kept it out, continuing his fine form. The danger was prolonged as the Sky Blues were able to get in behind the last line but Patrick Kisnorbo and Kew Jaliens put in brilliant shifts to keep them scoreless.

In the 81st minute, a quick throw-in was taken which allowed Koren to flick on to Mooy prior to the star man providing a majestic pass to James Brown who calmly went around Janjetovic before slotting into an open net. It was a major shock for Melbourne City fans – obviously a pleasant one. We had taken the lead late on but the fans knew that, knowing our history of late disappointments, it would be a stressful finish to the match.

Fortunately, though, Melbourne City were able to hang on and collect all three points in Sydney. Against all the odds, City had pulled off a valiant win in a type of match that we’ve failed to succeed in for years. The hope of finals remain. Brisbane will play Wellington and Western Sydney both in the space of four days and City will hope that they only gain minimal points before the massive showdown at AAMI Park next Saturday. Another must-win that will define our potential finals appearance.

Come on City!

Melbourne City VS Newcastle Jets 4-0 Review

City-Newcastle

A fortnight ago, Melbourne City displayed a brilliant second half performance against Adelaide United at AAMI Park to gain three points. It was a result that many thought could kick start a great run of form to cement a top six spot and make the A-League finals. However, despite playing against two of the bottom three teams in the league in succession, City heavily disappointed by losing both.

The team needed to bounce back and record three points against the bottom side in the league – Newcastle Jets. Due to City’s recent poor form this season, like the previous four seasons, attendance was minimal in Melbourne. Just over 5,000 fans attended a rather satisfactory display from their side.

City looked positive early on with home debutant Harry Novillo showing signs of class early in the match. The Frenchman was able to create plenty of room for himself due to his positivity and confidence on the ball as he was not afraid to attack the goal and beat the Jets defenders. The winger had brilliantly provided a large attacking presence which saw him attempt three shots on goal in the space of 10 minutes.

Very soon after, against his old side, Kew Jaliens opened the scoring after a delightful corner kick from our star player Aaron Mooy that exploited the Jets’ horrid marking in the box. The Dutch veteran, along with the rest of the City defenders and Tando Velaphi were rarely tested in defence for the match. The remainder of the half saw very few chances but the floodgates would open in the second.

Very shortly after the break, Daniel Mullen committed an extremely terrible mistake as he failed to get rid of the ball. It allowed a siege of Melbourne City attackers to pounce and eventually capitalise through Harry Novillo to score his first goal for the club. Not the prettiest goal and it almost seemed they would blow it as Kennedy and Koren failed to finish a certain goal before the 23-year-old finally slotted it home.

The home side continued to pressurise the Newcastle defence as this time Robi Koren found himself in plenty of room only to blaze it over the bar. The Slovenian once again failed to prove his worth, continuing to leave doubts in the fans’ minds about his service as a marquee signing. But the 34-year-old showed his skill minutes later after the returning Germano won back the ball, allowing Koren to play a sublime pass into the path of substitute David Williams whose mishit ended up in the back of the net to extend the lead for City. Williams had come on for Josh Kennedy who had an injury problem – believed to be hip tightness.

Iain Ramsay who also came off the bench was played through by Aaron Mooy before scoring his second goal of the season. The points were put beyond doubt and it turned out to be an impressive result for Melbourne City putting them back into the top six. However, Brisbane Roar have three games in hand and with them being just two points behind, the odds are against us. Six matches remain for Melbourne City and it’s safe to say that unless the players produce several miracles, we will not be seeing a finals appearance this season.