Robbie Wielaert says it’s time for Melbourne City to reward their improved crowds with their first home win of the season on Saturday against Sydney FC.
City, riding on the wave of hype generated by new owners and big-name recruits, has enjoyed strong attendance growth so far this season in comparison to their former moniker, Melbourne Heart.
However, City are winless at home, managing only two draws and a loss so far this campaign.
The club has averaged 12,734 across their first three home games at AAMI Park, in comparison to a season average of 9,933 last campaign, boosted by two home Melbourne derbies.
Last season’s figure was Heart’s best-ever, with previous season attendance averages being 8,560, 9,082 and 8,315 in descending chronological order.
Guest player David Villa’s presence certainly boosted attendances at their first two 2014-15 fixtures and his unlikely return means crowds are expected to fall away.
Only 9,402 fans turned out for last Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Central Coast, more than 6,000 less than their opening home fixture in round two when Villa scored an 87th minute equalizer against Newcastle Jets.
However, veteran City defender Wielaert is hoping an upturn in form, starting on Saturday against the Sky Blues, can keep them coming.
“We have to give the spectators something back,” Wielaert told FourFourTwo.
“We have more spectators than last season. They’re really supporting us.
“They stand behind us so it’s time to give them three points.”
Wielaert insisted that the club’s increased hype and expectation had not affected the group, which is now without arguably its two biggest off-season recruits in Villa and marquee Robert Koren (injured).
In fact, the 35-year-old Dutch defender said he, for one, was trying to use their newfound status as the team everyone else loves to hate to positive effect.
“We just try to perform the best we can,” he said.
“The outside world is talking about the rich owners. We just look at ourselves and try to get better.
“We know a lot of people are against us, talking about the City Group, but we have to take that as an advantage and see it as us against the rest of the world and stick together and perform.”
The veteran, who hasn’t missed a training session or game this season, said last weekend’s failure to turn a 2-0 lead into three points was down to a number of factors, but agreed they needed to develop a ruthless edge.
Wielaert was confident they could get it right against Sydney, who they played out a 1-1 draw with in round one at Allianz Stadium.
“They’re very organised, it’s hard to break them down,” he said. “But you have to switch sides and keep the ball and wait for the right moments to penetrate.
“We’ve worked on that this week, so hopefully it pays off.”comments