Villain or not, City’s style is good for the game

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Sydney FC may be reaping the plaudits for their early season success but it was 30 minutes of football last Friday night in Melbourne I’m truly excited about.

Melbourne City’s 2-1 victory over Adelaide United might not have been popular with the City ‘haters’, but an electrifying first half hour certainly impressed my A-League skeptic housemate Bob.

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Bob loves his football, but would more likely be found watching an English Premier League game at 2am than parked on the couch for a Friday night A-League clash.

Now Bob’s no A-League novice. He’s been to at least one game (a Sydney FC clash a few years ago where he was amazed by Brett Emerton’s unwavering and relentless ability to backheel the ball out of play) and was fairly smitten with the dominant Roar team of a few seasons past.

But realistically he could be categorised as having a healthy dose of contempt for Australia’s national competition.

Nonetheless, and to my infinite surprise, last Friday he was on the couch waiting expectantly for kickoff.

The experience didn’t start well for Bob on hearing that Tim Cahill was taking a seat in the stands, but it soon turned around.

City’s intense pressing game from the outset, coupled with their attacking threats in Bruno Fornaroli, Bruce Kamau, and Fernando Brandan proved spellbinding.

Brandan’s exquisite turn, equally matched by Fornaroli’s curling effort for City’s first goal, set the tone for the match, but it was the pace and skill of 21-year-old Kamau against his former team that had Bob excited.

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Kamau proved a constant danger down the right flank, and his scorching strike just before the opener would have been a worthy reward for his efforts had it not met the crossbar.

His combination play with the two South Americans and Luke Brattan was just superb, and together they, along with the rest of the City team, produced what was the best 30 minutes of play Bob and I had seen in the A-League.

Of course, for Bob, the realisation that Kamau had yet to be called up to the Socceroos was an absolute travesty for a player who was destined, in his mind, for an immediate transfer to Europe.

So while Bob might not be rushing out to buy a season ticket, his enthusiasm for the match was real, and so is the reality behind it – that the quality of the league is only getting better.

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Melbourne City might be an easy team to hate but in playing the kind of beautiful football on show last Friday night they’re doing the Hyundai A-League a great service.

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