Melbourne City have shown what they are capable of as genuine title contenders, but for the moment they’re still searching for their first A-League silverware after falling short of a grand final berth.

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This season

A-League
Regular season – 3rd (13 wins, 4 draws, 10 losses)
Finals – Knocked out by Newcastle Jets in the semi-final

FFA Cup
Defeated by Sydney FC in the quarter-final

Top Scorer
Ross McCormack – 14

Season summary

City had a wonderful opening month to the season where they won all their opening four games including the first Melbourne derby of the campaign. After City picked up a maximum of 12 points, they suddenly hit a rough patch following the 2-0 win against Adelaide United.

City’s next four fixtures netted just one point against Western Sydney Wanderers in round six. City eventually turned the corner with a 2-1 win against Newcastle in round nine.

These two teams spent the whole season battling it out for second and third positions on the table. Despite City getting the upper hand in the head-to-head during the season with two wins and a draw, they couldn’t nudge past Newcastle and when it mattered in the semi-final, the Jets came out on top.

City would be disappointed to lose twice against Victory as well as being outclassed by Sydney FC. The three matches against the Sky Blues don’t make for great reading with 4-0 and 3-1 losses accompanying an early 1-0 defeat in round five.

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Areas of excellence

For a club that was prone to conceding a large number of goals, Warren Joyce has managed to tighten up the defence considerably. While City’s attacking potency in recent seasons has enabled them to rise up the table, the amount of goals they conceded were the question mark and at times it seemed to hold them back from reaching their potential.

This season, only Sydney FC have less goals against them (22) than City’s 33 and for the first time since 2011-12, City conceded less than 40 goals in a single season.

A leaky defence appears a thing of the past with Joyce in charge and he’ll be aiming to keep his sturdy defence intact next campaign.

Areas in need of improvement

Do City rely too much on the youngster Daniel Arzani? Sometimes it seems that when the 19-year-old is on the park, he is the only one that is driving City’s creativity.

His lack of match fitness during the season saw him rarely play the full 90 minutes and would be regularly subbed out after 70-75 minutes. The upside remains huge but given he’s still developing it means other players need to step up while he gets his rest.

City’s fans were long crying out for Arzani to get an opportunity and he took it with aplomb. It might take him a little bit longer to reach the conditioning required to play week in week out and as such City should look for adequate reinforcements to cover for him when needed.

Top student

Bart Schenkeveld has been a rock in City’s backline and has established himself as one of the top-tier defenders of the league. He’s been a key component of the defence that was ranked as the second best in the competition this campaign.

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The Dutch centre back was able to utilise his experience from the Eredivisie and shone in the A-League as he regularly got in the right positions to intercept with his noticeable pace on show.

His passing accuracy of 90.5 per cent only added to his repertoire as a valuable contributor to City’s improved defensive outfit.

Class clown

Following a 10-year tenure with Adelaide United, Eugene Galekovic was aiming to lock down the number one goalkeeping spot at his new club despite being in the twilight of his career.

The 36-year-old was denied a new contract at the Reds and with the departure of Thomas Sorensen the opportunity was there. However, the move didn’t go to script as Dean Bouzanis earned the right to remain between the sticks.

Provided he doesn’t retire, Galekovic is still a pretty handy second choice keeper that’s ready to deputize.

Grade: B+

Outlook

The return of Bruno Fornaroli from long-term injury gave City a boost late in the campaign and with a full pre-season under his belt, the Uruguayan will look to work towards the form that made him one of the finest strikers in the league.

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As he and Arzani learn their craft playing alongside each other, opposition clubs should be wary of what they’ll look to produce.

Success in the A-League may be just around the corner for City if they can bridge the gap between their best and worst. They’ve shown the ability to match it against grand finalist Newcastle but the same couldn’t be said against table-toppers Sydney FC.

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Liam Watson is covering Melbourne Victory this season while completing Media and Communications at La Trobe University.