Goals, atmosphere and luck still missing despite City’s best season yet – end of season review

Max says…

While City arguably had its best season yet (more from Ash on that further down), let’s focus on a few factors that the club still lacks when compared to its competitors: attacking nous or creativity, crowd atmosphere and luck.

Luck: Successful clubs hardly rely on luck to go places, however City could learn a few things from today’s grand finalists – Newcastle and Victory. What’s stayed with me from our semi-final defeat to Newcastle is that both of the Jets’ goals had good fortune about them, but they demonstrated that teams make their own luck in front of goal at crucial times. The same could be said about two of Victory’s goals in their gritty win over Sydney. Sometimes you just have to shoot when there’s half an opening, which Fornaroli demonstrated with a few goals late in the campaign. Other players, like the departed Fitzgerald, lacked this decisiveness.

Attacking strategies: Overall City lacked the ability to create more situations where attacking interplay, shooting accuracy or a bit of luck from a shot resulted in goals being scored. Another way of saying this is Joyce lacked strategies to break down an opponent’s defences. City’s 44 goals from 27 games was less than the last two seasons and way behind Newcastle (59) and Sydney (66). When you consider we won more corners than any other team, then clearly City was unable to exploit its advantages. McCormack used his strength and long range shooting ability to get a good return for effort, whereas Fornaroli needed far better service once he returned from injury. Arzani did his best, although he has shown goal scoring to be his ‘growth area’. It’s disappointing to see City let go of Kamau and I feel the club fails to give young strikers time and opportunities to develop at the senior level.

Atmosphere: And scoring goals no matter who you’re playing is part of building a bigger following…and therefore a better atmosphere for a team to thrive in. In the era of ‘systems’ winning out over style, I appreciate that Joyce has put in place a better defensive system, aided notably by player of the year Schenkeveld (apologies to Bart for not mentioning him in a previous blog!). But attacking flare with an element of the unpredictable is a key element in drawing crowds, not to mention family-friendly game times (take note FFA and Foxtel) and a game day culture that resonates. Playing Oasis songs before / after City games does not resonate. Newcastle have the advantage of having a single city behind them, but they have football history and an adopted song chosen by the fans – ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ by INXS. There’s some homework for us City fans over the off-season: find an Aussie tune, original or adopted, to sing to and help turn the atmosphere around.

Ash says…

Upon reflecting on the whole season and all things considered, City had its best season, despite the disappointment of not making the grand final.

Going into the semi-final I was quietly confident that it would be City going into the decider against Sydney. But, Ernie Merrick is a great A-League coach and he rallied his troops to the challenge, beating us fairly. Once again it left me to reflect on what could have been for the season that was.

It was unfortunate to see Fornaroli injured in the FFA Cup, but it saw Ross McCormack step in as an injury replacement and what a replacement! 14 goals in 17 matches. It is a pity that we couldn’t keep him for the whole season.

City had its rising stars in some great young talent – Daniel Arzani and Nathaniel Atkinson. Arzani was great to watch, certainly one of the highlights for the year with a bright future ahead.

Bart Schenkeveld was another standout. Clearly one of the best players in the A-League, he kept the defence in line and helped provide City with its lowest goals against in a season.

And our coach, Warren Joyce, certainly kept the fans talking off the pitch. In the end he oversaw City’s best season yet, just missing the Grand Final. If he can continue this trend and we have a good pre-season recruiting some new attacking weapons, I am definitely looking forward to seeing City in action next season.

City sidelined by the Sydney machine

In football there’s only two ways to read the tea leaves before your team comes up against a formidable opponent: either the opponent is going to roll over the top of your team or it will finally falter because your side is ‘due a win’.

The latter reading was particularly favoured by City fans like me because our team had fired up again – 4 wins and 2 draws in the last 6 games, including a 5-0 drubbing of Adelaide and almost clinching a winner against second-placed Newcastle. Surely after losing to Sydney in the FFA cup quarters in September, then twice in the league, City was due a win against the top team…

In the first 30 minutes of this game City gave me hope that my prediction was right. Budzinski fired a few shots and Arzani looked dangerous in keeping with his recent form. Then again, Sydney’s defence didn’t appear that troubled. If only City had retained Wilkinson a few seasons ago, then our defence might be as solid as Sydney’s. A more pressing question on the fans’ minds was how would the team go without this season’s goal machine Ross McCormack. His long range stunner against Adelaide showed what a quality player he is and we sorely needed him in this clash, not back at Villa in England where his future is in doubt. At least Fornaroli was sitting on the bench itching to make up for his lost season so far.

Back on the pitch, suddenly out of nothing Brosque was through City’s defence and Bouzanis did the predictable thing and brought him down, even though the Sydney captain was wide of the goal. The penalty was converted by Bobo. My hopes didn’t sink at that point because we’d shown in numerous games this season that we know how to fight back when going behind. All credit to Joyce for instilling that spirit in the players which was so lacking for years.

At this point perhaps City’s players were waiting for each other to click into fight-back mode, rather than step up personally. In the midfield in particular, Brattan and Mauk went AWOL with Vidosic lacking his usual sharpness. Ten minutes later Ninkovic, arguably Sydney’s most dangerous player, waltzed through the middle and easily volleyed one home.

Only a blistering performance from Fornaroli in the second half and better team defending offered any hope now. I’d like to think that Joyce would have made some tactical changes too. However judging by his comments in the post-match press conference, it didn’t cross his mind because he put it onto the players to simply not repeat the mistakes they made in the first half. So we inevitably witnessed the same outcome in the second 45 minutes. Sydney are a game-winning machine and City failed to make any interventions to stop it. Fornaroli’s return gave us one thing to cheer about and we jumped for joy when later he scored, only for it to be ruled out for an infringement.

I’d certainly misread those proverbial tea leaves and we went home deeply disappointed that a third placed team hardly mounted a challenge to a team running away with the league. Joyce rightly noted Sydney’s excellent ability to make the right decisions in attack and City should have done better with the few chances they created, having scored at least two goals in each of the previous 6 games. But it was the lack of determination to deny Sydney space to play that was most deflating. You can only hope City get over it quickly and regain that grittiness we’ve come to admire this season.

Yes we have local music on our show, like the Phosphenes

This is The Phosphenes song Watershed. Have a listen:

We played this along with a few other songs on our last show. We want to have more Melbourne bands on our show. If you have a band and are currently playing gigs in and around the city of Melbourne, please emails us at ash@thebigheart.co with a song so we can have a listen.

We want to help promote local bands on the show as well as talk about Melbourne City FC. Hopefully making it entertaining and all about the city of Melbourne.

Don’t forget to listen to some local Melbourne bands on our latest podcast

Have you listened to our latest podcast yet? Well you can check it out here “Old VS New“:

On this podcast we have some great local bands playing:

If you have a local band and play gigs around Melbourne and want to have your music heard on our podcast please email us at ash@thebigheart.co. We really want to help promote local bands that play in the city of Melbourne and keep our podcast entertaining and hopefully have your music reach a few more people.

Yes we are amateurs at the podcast world and we are still working on our audio and getting it up on iTunes. Apart from that we hope you enjoyed the local music talent.

Remember we are interested in having more Melbourne bands, that play gigs in Melbourne on our podcast. So, please email us ash@thebigheart.co if you would like your music played on our podcast.