Another disappointing for Melbourne City after so much promise. An early finals exit putting City fans out of their misery after a season fueled with off-field controversy.

This Season

Regular Season: 5th ( W11, D7, L9)
Finals: Knocked out in the elimination final
FFA Cup: Quarter Finals
Top Scorer(s): Ritchie De Laet & Riley McGree – 7 goals

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Season Summary

A season overshadowed by off-field issues which threatened to have significant implications on the field for Melbourne City.

Bruno Fornaroli’s falling out with head coach Warren Joyce dominated the headlines for several months – with the former captain left on the sidelines after being omitted back in November 2018.

Once the dust had settled over this issue a new one had begun as many fans grew disgruntled with Joyce – whose future at the club is yet to be decided.

All this coupled with an early finals exit paints a bleak picture for Melbourne City in season 2018/19.

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The side failed to gather momentum throughout the season and threaten to contend for the premiership – with a three-game winning streak in January ensuring their place inside the top six.

A last-minute winner against the Western Sydney Wanderers is worth a mention as Bart Schenkeveld’s stoppage time header ensured the points for the home side in an entertaining seven goal thriller.

Despite a tumultuous season, City ended on high defeating the Central Coast Mariners 5-0 which saw the debut of the club’s youngest ever player Idrus Abdulahi at 15 and a goal of the season contender from young-gun Ramy Najjarine.

This win saw the club jump into fifth on the table and set up an elimination final showdown with Adelaide United – who would go on to win the tie 1-0 at home deep into extra time.

Moreover, despite carrying an injury for most of the campaign – Premier League winner Ritchie De Laet impressed, playing in every position but goalkeeper as he finished the season with seven goals to his name.

Schenkeveld picked up where he left off from last season as did recruit Riley McGree on loan from Club Brugge.

The biggest surprise of the season being Eugene Galekovic – who won City’s player of the season award after many believed he would play second fiddle to Mark Birighitti.

Areas of improvement

At times it felt Warren Joyce had the keys to a Ferrari but opted for MK 2 Astra.

Despite ending the season as one of the league’s best defensive sides – City were criticised for adopting a tedious and uninspiring brand of football.

Defensively the side were quite sound.

Harrison Delbridge won over many fans in the second half of the season while Schenkeveld and De Laet added an element of class to the back four.

Unfortunately, goals were few and far between for the side with the leading goal scorers being a defender and McGree who came off the bench more often than not.

Despite signing Jamie Maclaren and Shayon Harrison in January it did not necessarily translate to significant improvement as the side failed to break inside the top four.

Top Student: Eugene Galekovic

This may be a bit of a cop out – considering Galekovic won the player of the season – but it is nonetheless deserved.

At the ripe old age of 37, Galekovic was supposed to play back-up to Birighitti but surprised many when he was named as City’s starting goalkeeper in their opening match and maintained his position for the whole season.

The 37-year-old was a big reason as to why City’s defensive record was so good – stepping up when all hope seemed lost to produce saves worth of a thousand replays.

His performance in City’s away win to Adelaide United in January stands out as his best performance – against his former club.

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Class Clown: Bruno Fornaroli

No one really knows what went down between the Uruguayan and Warren Joyce but it’s no secret whose side the fans were on.

It put City on the front pages and was the first question the City boss was asked at every press conference he attended.

To make matters worse, City took a leaf out of North Korea’s book and wouldn’t show Fornaroli on the big screens at AAMI Park – despite fox sports going to him at every stoppage in play.

The saga ultimately ended when Fornaroli was announced as a Perth Glory player for next season, putting an end to an interesting chapter in the club’s history.

Outlook

It’s another season of the same old story for Melbourne City – one built on so much promise only to be let down when it matters.

Failing to advance past the first round of the finals is a big letdown as City’s wait for a Grand Final berth continues.

On paper, this is a side capable of silverware but for one reason – or another – they are unable to realise this potential.

City achieved the bare minimum by making the finals and managed to blood several youth players – increasing their depth – but it seemed off-field issue impacted on-field performances as fans are once again left frustrated and disgruntled at the lack of progress at Melbourne City.

Grade: C

Featured Image: Ngau Kai Yan

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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.