It what could only be described as a typical City performance in Perth we once again leave NIB stadium disappointed. Failing to take advantage of the one man advantage for the final third of the game City could only walk away with a point in a game where a win would’ve seen the club grab second position. What awaits City is a nine day break before they face Wellington at home on ‘Australia Day eve’ (yes, that’s a thing) as John Van’t Schip and his team lament just what could’ve been.
Taking nothing away from Perth, Kenny Lowe had injected a new enthusiasm into the squad which coincides with the arrival of Andy Keogh and they are a much different assignment from earlier in the season. Perth starts their run at the top six from a long way back but will definitely give any team a few headaches over the next few months. The group of young talent points towards a positive future at NIB Stadium over the next few seasons.
Back to City and it seems as all too familiar script, another wasted opportunity to show the league you belong at the pointy end of the spectrum and you are a serious title contender. The City defense has now conceded 10 goals in their last five games and in turn had undone most of the great work from Mooy, Fornaroli and Novillo. There is little point City being the most attacking team in the competition if they cannot keep a clean sheet on a consistent basis. The only clean sheet the club has kept this season was against Newcastle, the club that is on the verge of breaking the league record for minutes without a goal; hardly an achievement you can hang your hat on.
So why the lackluster performance last night, one can only scratch your head and wonder. On the back of two encouraging home performances City seemed to just go through the motions last night with the team happy to bring home a solitary point on their return flight. The trip across to Perth can be a taxing one, but most of the squad didn’t appear to get out of second gear last night. It was the most frustrating performance from the since their second half meltdown against Western Sydney in November.
The most disappointing aspect of that decision is aesthetically we are probably the best team in the league to watch but fail to grasp opportunities when they present themselves. The club has a history of failure and this culture needs to be changed.
Winning games like last night play an important role in changing that culture and gives supporters the belief that this team is capable of achieving something special. It creates buzz around Melbourne and those people who don’t feel the need to attend all of a sudden find themselves on a train or tram enroute to AAMI Park, swept up in the rapid improvement of the club.
I am confident of beating Wellington next home game but won’t be able to let go of this missed opportunity for a while. At present we sit fourth, and are part of a five team logjam who are all within four points of each other, with the current finals system it’s imperative you finish top two if you want to make the Grand Final; we cannot continue to drop points, especially when playing against 10 men for 30 minutes.
Off the field I expect the club to remain busy during the January transfer period. Club stalwart David Williams appears to be on the way out with his game time restricted currently restricted to cameos off the bench. Whilst Williams has been a great player over the last few seasons I cannot remember the last time he had an influence on the pitch this season. If we can manage to squeeze him out of the squad and bring in some quality this could only improve our title hopes. Hopefully the Koren saga reached an end this week with the international marquee appearing on the outer.
Whatever our movements off the pitch this week we need to shore up our defense during the next few months if we are going to have any say in the 2015/16 title race. I won’t be complaining if we keep scoring freely, but finals football is a different beast and this is when your defense earns its reputation.