Melbourne City has become the talking point of the league this season, and it’s not all great news for the club. Once looked upon as a minnow of the league in its former moniker of Melbourne Heart, the club has now grown considerably under the watchful eyes of the City Football Group.
Just like the school lunchtime kickabout when a few more people rock along to the school oval, the goalposts have been moved to suit those running the game. Many years ago it was simply moving a few school jumpers back 10 yards, but now moving the goalposts seems to be intrinsically linked with a phone call to the Middle East.
It’s an uncomfortable look for the league to seemingly favour one club over the other nine, we’ve all seen this before with the FFA playing favourites, but never as obvious as in its current state with Melbourne City. If love song dedications was still on the radio David Gallop would be sending out the dulcet tones of Michael Buble on a nightly basis to Tim Cahill and his Melbourne City cohorts.
The club played within the rules allowing Anthony Careras and Luke Brattan at the club but there is a difference of playing within the rules and within the spirit of the game. The loophole has now been closed, but full credit to the club for using this stream to build their ever impressive squad. I’m also comfortable with the ‘Tim Cahill’ rule and how the FFA is using some of their funding to assist Tim Cahill to come back to Australia in the twilight years of his outstanding career.
It took Cahill only twenty-seven minutes of A-League football to send the code to the front of every sporting broadcast. His ‘Wondergoal’ will be tough to top for goal of the season and for Cahill to hit such a strike in his first ever A-League goal, albeit in a Melbourne Derby to a Fox Sports audience beamed around the country. In that one moment Cahill payed pack a significant amount of capital back to David Gallop and everyone at FFA HQ.
The icing on the top for many was the Yoshi announcement during the week when Twitter went into a predictable meltdown when a ten year old boy chose he would support Melbourne City. Whilst it was most likely a decision made in the boardroom by men in suits, when you drag yourself away from the corporate speak and view the situation through the eyes of a ten year old and you’ll come to a very similar conclusion.
If I’m an impressionable ten year old and love my football (and don’t have a team yet) and get the opportunity to meet one of Australia’s favourite footballers in Tim Cahill, you will always choose Melbourne City over the other nine every day of the week.
What’s stopping any A-League club mimicking the “You’ve gotta have a team” campaign on a smaller scale in their local community. The marketing campaign was one of the better run ideas out of FFA HQ in quite a while, why not creatively use a few of the ideas with a few tinkering.
It was only a few seasons ago when Melbourne Heart were being run out of a portable and on a shoestring budget haemorrhaging money and young talent. Before the arrival of City Football Group many people had concerns for the future of the second club in Melbourne and given the leagues tendencies for the extinction of clubs we reached a very important juncture.
Now the club has built a squad that represents one of the most talented in the league, but still fails to attract sustainable crowds. Weather was a factor in the first home game for the season, and the omission of Tim Cahill most likely played a part against Adelaide. With the league throwing its marketing arsenal at Melbourne City results appear to be still a distance off.
Australian’s seem attracted to an underdog like a moth to the flame, so maybe we’ve built up Melbourne City a little bit too much. We are very much a country that suffers from tall poppy syndrome, quick to shoot down something that is finally successful.
If I remained a neutral supporter up until 2016/17 I would find the Fornaroli/Cahill combination hard to resist, combined with the re-emergence of Luke Brattan and you have a team that is capable of playing beautiful football at the flick of the switch. The favourable treatment received from the club is reminiscent of how Greater Western Sydney receives a ‘leg up’ from the AFL and I couldn’t bring myself to support a team who receives such an advantage from a governing body. The Manchester City factor, whilst small could also prove a tipping point and I would more than likely choose Victory over City if I was making a decision between teams in Melbourne in today’s landscape.
Thankfully I am already a Melbourne City supporter and have invested far too much emotion in supporting this club. Whilst no supporter is guaranteed success I can see this season as being a very good one for the club including our first ever cup final (Played at home, adding even more fuel to the fire). Whilst there has been far too squad turnover over the last few seasons to build proper organic growth of a football club I can understand the reasons why the FFA are concentrating their recourses to the City blue of Melbourne.
A successful second Melbourne club will make it easier for a third Melbourne/Victorian club to join the league and personally I would like to see an existing club such as South Melbourne or Melbourne Knights join the league, but that is an argument for another day.Google+