Can Manchester City’s sister club finally follow in its English counterpart’s footsteps and win a premiership in Australia? FourFourTwo analyses Melbourne City’s chances….
It hasn’t been all straight-forward and easy since Melbourne Heart was taken over and rebranded in the City mould. The club finished fifth last season, thanks to Perth dropping down, but were bundled out of the finals easily by crosstown rivals Victory.
You get the impression this campaign is a very important one for John v’ant Schip and his men. The side has splurged, some very good names have been brought in, and the professionalism at the club has increased. There can be no excuses. City needs to be a top four team by next year or else.
Ben Morello: “For me, a successful season consists of finishing in the top two of the regular season, in order to get home advantage, as well as the best possible chance of progressing in the finals series. Winning the FFA Cup would also give us a chance to qualify for the Asian Champions League.
“I’m a big fan of Michael Zullo and Ivan Franjic, and cannot wait to see them bombing on and overlapping down the wings, because throughout the history of Heart/City, we’ve really lacked proper full backs, so having them on either side will give us another dimension this upcoming season. Getting Corey Gameiro and Novillo fit again has fans very excited for the upcoming season.
"A good start to the season is imperative, especially with Sydney round one, and a Melbourne Derby the week after. Ensuring our key players are fit and firing that should alleviate fears of City not being able to walk the walk.”
Why they’ll do well?
City has strengthened significantly in 2015/2016 and gotten rid of some dead wood. In has come Uruguayan marksman Bruno Fornaroli, Socceroos Ivan Franjic and Michel Zullo, former English Premier League stars Thomas Sorensen and Aaron Hughes, while Harry Novillo has been signed to a permanent deal and young attacker Corey Gameiro has been enticed down south from Sydney FC.
JVS has a lot better roster to work him now, while Aaron Mooy also seems to have gone up a level and Erik Partaalu will anchor midfield alongside him. There’s a nice blend of youth and experience. This is a team hungry for success with solid backing behind it.
Why they’ll do badly
The pressure will be on like Donkey Kong from round one. City Football Group wants results and another fifth place won’t be tolerated. Expect van’t Schip to be scrutinised if the team drops a few games early. Sorensen and Hughes have had great careers, but are past their best now, while Gameiro has had a horrible run with injury. Expectations are high and that may affect some players in the squad adversely.
The big questions
Who will get the goals?
City only scored 36 goals last season, the fourth lowest total in the competition. With Josh Kennedy retired, Mate Dugandzic, Damien Duff and Iain Ramsay all released, they need new attacking sources. Novillo and Gameiro can provide some, if fit, and Fornaroli will need to step up. Mooy can’t bang them all in, so expect fullbacks Franjic and Zullo to also offer a threat.
Will fans get behind them?
Victory is the juggernaut in the Victorian capital and receives great support. City, the second A-League club to be introduced in Melbourne, struggle to incite the same level of fandom. City needs to build its attendance and membership to help compete with the defending champions.
Is John van’ t Schip the right man at the helm?
The Dutchman replaced John Aloisi at the helm in 2014 and has done a solid, if unspectacular job. His coaching CV – Twente, Heart, and Guadalajara – is not filled with trophies. You get the impression van’t Schip was the easy option for City’s owners but if things don’t go right this season his head will be on the chopping block.
Key player: Aaron Mooy
Mooy seems to be getting better and better as the weeks go by. The kid from Carlingford has developed a real eye for goal and his free-kicks are weapons. His time with the Socceroos seems to have done him a world of good. Consistency is the aim now for Mooy, who will be City’s main man for the next 12 months.
What they’ll be saying come April
City is a club heading towards great things and they’re ready to break the Victory and Sydney FC duopoly.
Finally delivering on their potential – 2nd.
Wade Dekker (City NYL)
Bruno Fornaroli (free)
Ivan Franjic (Torpedo Moscow)
Corey Gameiro (Sydney FC)
Aaron Hughes (free)
Steve Kuzmanovski (Western Sydney Wanderers)
Harry Novillo (permanent deal)
Thomas Sorensen (free)
Michael Zullo (free)
Damien Duff (released)
Mate Dugandzic (released)
Jason Hoffman (Newcastle Jets)
Kew Jaliens (released)
Josh Kennedy (retired)
Massimo Murdocca (released)
Iain Ramsay (released)
Andrew Redmayne (Western Sydney Wanderers)
Rob Wielaert (released)comments