When Tim Cahill questioned his playing time immediately after helping guide the Socceroos to their third consecutive World Cup the writing was on the wall that he would leave Melbourne City, leaving his playing future in a precarious positon.
As it now stands we are none the wiser where Cahill’s next move will be at club level but rest assured he will have something lined up given his desire to score at a fourth consecutive World Cup.
When Cahill arrived at Australia’s richest club he was the designated as the saviour of Australian football, the man who transcends sport in Australia; For David Gallop and Steven Lowy he was the goose that would lay the golden egg and lay the foundations for a new era in football and promote the A-League like never before. A special ‘Cahill rule’ was introduced so all this could be realised but what impact did Cahill make in his relatively short stint at City?
Early days the Cahill factor went into overdrive with a healthy promotion campaign, giving the maligned sport important headspace in the overcrowded Australian market, Cahill was showing up everywhere and offices around the country were at least discussing the A-League. Even non-football people know who Tim Cahill is and football people revere what Cahill has done for the game in Australia. When Cahill made an instant impact during his first Melbourne derby with a wundergoal from 45 yards everyone in Australia was talking Cahill and the reported $3 million dollars from the FFA seemed a bargain.
As the season went on Cahill bobbed up in some important moments for City, none more than the only goal during the FFA Cup final, Melbourne City’s first silverware (Men’s). For the success starved club Cahill’s impact was invaluable but sadly this was as good as it would get for the small but loyal fan base. The season was essentially over when City Football Group appointed the tactically inept Michael Valkanis. City were far too predictable for the remainder of the season and although Cahill would produce 11 goals in 22 appearances his team would finish a disappointing 27 points adrift for eventual Premiers Sydney FC and apart from the early cup success the year was wasted for a team chasing success and Asian Champions League qualification.
This would be the high point of Cahill’s City career with the 2017/18 season fast becoming a distraction for the Socceroos hero. Cahill would produce two goals against Syria in yet another standout performance, leaving everyone in no doubt Cahill still had what it took to head to Russia if the Socceroos were successful. That night against Syria Cahill single-handedly rescued the nation (once again) but more importantly played the entire 120 minutes, more than he would play for City this season before his agreed departure.
There is no doubting Cahill’s Socceroos commitments hindered his club preparation for the season but you could see it wasn’t the same Cahill running around for Melbourne City this season. Rightly or wrongly Cahill’s sole focus was getting the Socceroos into the World Cup for one last World Cup on a personal level, his domestic duties were in fact that duties and this showed in his limited minutes under new head coach Warren Joyce. When Cahill put his playing time before the needs of the club he was always going to depart Melbourne City, it was just a matter of when and how.
When Cahill made a 20 minute cameo appearance to less than 7000 City fans at AAMI Park you could easily rate the Cahill stint a failure for all intensive purposes when you consider the financial investment made by the FFA. On the field Cahill failed to gel with Bruno Fornaroli and Ross McCormack and became an alternative rather than a double pronged attack with either player. Cahill failed to have the desired impact during the league and even though his scoring record was very good, he failed to have the desired impact many thought he would have. Crowd numbers were most likely down on expectations, especially this season when Cahill became a mere spectator for the bulk of games and there was an obvious rift between player and coach.
Off the pitch Cahill would be considered a success everywhere he went. Thousands of children experienced watching one of their heroes in the flesh last season as the Cahill tour swung into full gear, Cahill spent countless hours promoting the sport, taking selfies and giving back to the game that has given him so much. You cannot put a price on the impact he had last season, just seeing the countless smiles of the faces of the fans when Cahill was in town gives you a friendly and much needed reminder of why football is so great. For that you cannot thank Cahill enough for his contribution and whilst many will remember the Cahill Legacy as nothing more than a cash grab it’s important to remember those moments when Cahill gave back so much.
Personally it was disappointing for Cahill to walk away from City before he really became involved in this season but his reasons for leaving are crystal clear. Whether he ends up in Turkey, Japan, Adelaide (highly unlikely) or anywhere else Australia wishes him well.Google+