A new season approaches and once again Melbourne City is poised for big things after another successful transfer period.

Will this be the year they finally unleash and recognise their potential? Or will they once again find themselves as the league’s bridesmaids?

Last season
A-League : 3rd
Finals: Semi-Final
2018 FFA Cup : Quarter Final

Embed from Getty Images

They’ll win the league because…

The balance between youth and experience has been perfected. City’s activity during the transfer window has once again excited many, but this time for different reasons. Instead of luring a ‘big fish’ like their cross-town rivals, City attacked the transfer window with strong intentions of filling specific needs which would take them from a top-six side to one challenging for silverware.

Strikers may win you games but defenders win you championships and it is difficult identifying a better centre back pairing than Bart Schekenfeld and Ritchie De Laet in the league. At just 29-years-old, De Laet may just be the smartest bit of on-field business the club has done for some time. His presence will add further composure to City’s defence and will enhance the development of the players around him.

At the other end of the field Bruno Fornaroli has enjoyed an uninterrupted pre-season which should enable him to re-capture his record-breaking form of previous years. Fornaroli will receive the most attention from defenders, allowing players like Riley McGree and Dario Vidosic to have the freedom to punish teams.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

City’s worst-case scenario is stagnation, another year of opportunities gone begging and potential not realised.

Fornaroli’s absence last season hurt the team deeply, relying heavily on Ross McCormack as the club’s leading goal scorer for the season: a problem as the Scotsman only played the first half of the season.

Should Fornaroli go down or be unable to recapture his record-breaking form, scoring goals may be an issue for City considering the club lost three of their top six goal scorers from last season.

Embed from Getty Images

Talk around the water cooler… Look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information.

Warren Joyce will enter this season as City’s second longest serving manager after John v’ant Schip. The former Wigan Athletic manager has won 18 of his 35 matches in charge at City and will this season be re-united with Ritchie De Laet who not only played under Joyce at Manchester United but also at Royal Antwerp in Belgium.

The off season brought…

Reserved optimism.

While the club is yet to accomplish a top-two finish or qualify for the AFC Champions League – leaving the City Group’s ambition of a greater presence in Asia unsatisfied – there is a lingering sense of anticipation from fans this year.

While an early exit from the FFA Cup at home does not bode well, there is still plenty of excitement especially surrounding the injection of talented youth. Riley McGree and Lachlan Wales come into the side following the exits of Daniel Arzani and Bruce Kamau. The two new players are already proven at A-League level and should take their game to a new level this season.

Qualification into the Champions League and a top-two finish will be the pass mark for the club this season.

Embed from Getty Images

Key Player

Dario Vidosic. The 31-year-old has been on an incredible journey over his career and despite falling victim to A-League roulette, it appears he is ready to set the league alight.

Vidosic’s seasons have often been interrupted by moves to other clubs, preventing him from enjoying a full pre-season. Despite being recruited in January 2018, Vidosic comes in having completed a proper pre-season with the club for the first time.

The winger/midfielder scored five goals in his 16 appearances for the club last season, adding significant firepower to City’s attacking arsenal.

One to watch

Riley McGree.

On loan from Club Brugge, McGree has a chance to better himself and establish himself as one of Australia’s top players. Having once been the relatively unknown 17-year-old selected for the Socceroos, he is now recognised globally for his acrobatic scorpion-goal which was nominated for the FIFA Puskas Award.

McGree is the perfect replacement for Daniel Arzani, sharing the now Celtic winger’s x-factor and eye for goal. City could arguably get more out of McGree than Arzani on the field with the former expected to come straight into the starting eleven with an engine to perform for 90 minutes.

After netting five goals in 12 appearances for Newcastle and already scoring for City in the FFA Cup, expect McGree to take his game to a new level and find himself in the frame for further Socceroos selection.

Ins & Outs

Ins: Michael O’Halloran (Rangers, Scotland), Riley McGree (Newcastle Jets), Lachlan Wales (Central Coast Mariners), Anthony Caceres (Manchester City, England), Rostyn Griffiths (Pakhtakor Tashkent, Uzbekistan), Florin Berenguer (FC Sochaux-Montbéliard, France), Mark Birighitti (NAC Breda, Netherlands), Ritchie De Laet (Aston Villa, England), Curtis Good (Newcastle United, England), Kearyn Baccus (Western Sydney Wanderers)

Outs: Nick Fitzgerald, Manny Muscat, Bruce Kamau, Ruon Tongyik, Christian Cavallo, Stefan Mauk , Marcin Budzinski, Oliver Bozanic, Denis Genreau, Daniel Arzani , Dean Bouzanis

Full Squad List

Goalkeepers: Mark Birighitti, Eugene Galekovic,
Defenders: James Delianov, Dylan Pierias, Harrison Delbridge, Ritchie De Laet, Iacopo La Rocca, Osama Malik, Scott Jamieson, Nathanial Atkinson, Curtis Good
Midfielders: Florin Berenguer, Connor Metcalfe, Ramy Najjarine, Moudi Najjar, Luke Brattan, Rostyn Griffiths, Kearyn Baccus
Forwards: Bruno Fornaroli, Dario Vidosic, Michael O’Halloran, Riley McGree, Lachlan Wales, Anthony Cacerers.

SHARE
RMIT Journalism | Football Nation Radio Like all football fans my general mood for the week is dictated by how my team performs over the weekend.