Let me preface this by saying I didn’t have the opportunity to watch our FFA Cup quarter final against Sydney FC. From all reports our performance was underwhelming and I don’t have ninety minutes spare to watch mediocre football, although some would argue I’ve been doing this for the last seven seasons.
I’m not sure if it’s blind faith, or what but I have decided to start the 2017/18 A-League season in an unusually positive attitude in regards to Melbourne City. On face value our signings have been solid, without being earth shattering and for longer than I remember some members of the starting eleven have been retained for the following season.
Whilst still remaining optimistic the football gods sit laughing at me as City fans watch Bruno Fornaroli go down with an injury that will see him miss the first few games of the season proper and worse still we don’t even raise a sweat in our FFA Cup defence. Whilst remaining to smile and convincing myself we have the players that will finally win our first title I begin to become genuinely concerned about our campaign.
For starters this year’s squad couldn’t hold a candle to our squads of the previous two seasons and we came up empty handed on both occasions. I shudder to think what a squad containing Mooy, Novillo, Sorensen and a younger fitter Fornaroli could do when challenged by Bouzanis, Muscat and Malik. Even still I’ve read some ridiculous vitriol via social media about the upcoming season and how many are refusing to be involved with such a club who breed mediocrity. I for one will do my best to remain positive over the next month and ensuing twenty-seven weeks in anticipation of a decent group of performances from Melbourne City.
For mine, the upcoming season isn’t our biggest challenge on the horizon. Our biggest problem is starting us directly between the eyes and will continue to do so until we (as a club) address the issue, this issue is building a sustainable fan base.
Firstly this is more than likely to be Timmy Cahill’s final season. Last year Cahill scored a goal every other game but struggled to get thru ninety minutes of football, even at A-League pace. I can’t see this dramatically changing anytime soon and the hype he brought (or should that be bought) to City has lost the bulk of its shine. There is no denying Cahill is still a major drawcard for the league but he is also a fierce competitor and that has cost him some of his likability factor. Sure all he has to do is put on a Socceroos shirt and he gets swarmed by thousands of adoring fans, but as soon as he starts speaking City many lose interest and the tumbleweeds begin to gather.
Secondly the City Football Group or “Manchester City” factor hinders the club more than most would think. The image and branding of the club stem directly back to big brother Manchester City and as much as you try and Melbournise (not sure that is a real work, but I’ll use it anyway) our club you will always be linked to Manchester City. I walked into Rebel Sport today and spotted a variety of football shirts, the first thing that caught my eye was the Victory shirt display, immediately after I noticed all the big England clubs along with Barca, Real Madrid and Juve. At the end of the isle I spotted what appeared to be some extra Manchester City shirts, which were actually Melbourne City shirts.
There is no point of difference to our shirt, we merely blended into the ‘Great wall of shirts’ and Victory were immediately identifiable. There is no denying the natural gravitation Australians have towards the English Premier League, even without the Fox Sports coverage. It still remains the most well known league around the world and dominates the football vocabulary in Australia. Most people will nominate their English club before they will their A-Leauge club. Anyone in Melbourne who still hasn’t decided upon an A-League club and wants to become involved will immediately think Manchester City when they see Melbourne City and this can only play into the hands of Melbourne Victory.
Getting slightly off topic I attended the Melbourne Storm game last week and you can easily draw comparisons between Victory and themselves to see how sporting clubs can be well run in minority markets. There is no denying who the big dog is in town, especially in September and those who may only tolerate Australian Rules may need a heavy duty raincoat to deal with the saturation coverage. Storm and Victory own their respective markets and it would be a brave Melbourne City man to even guess when (or if) the City Blue wearing richer cousin will even have a look in when it comes to some type of equal market share.
Building on from the success of last year’s FFA Cup triumph I truly believed City could make some serious inroads into the football market in Melbourne, along with some help from Mr Cahill and the Northern Terrace self imploding but with only a month until the first derby (the pretend one at Etihad) I fear I will be in an even greater minority in comparison to last year.
Personally I enjoy the small, yet loyal following who choose to stick by our club but I cannot see how the club can make significant growth in the short term.
Whilst I remain positive, this season could be very much ado about nothingGoogle+