Valkanis taking it one step at a time despite victory

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Melbourne City’s new era under Michael Valkanis began with a victory but the caretaker coach is not concerned about his coaching future saying he will “focus game by game”.

City kicked off 2017 by beating Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 at AAMI Park in front of a strong 10,731 crowd thanks to a stunning goal from Ivan Franjic.

It was not the most assured performance though, given City’s domination of possession, but registering their first win since the FFA Cup Final win on November 30 will sit well with the men in light blue.

“The result was very important,” Valkanis said in his post-game interview.

“The boys dominated for the majority of the game.”

Dominate they did. City had 66% possession, earned 12 more corners than the Wanderers and won the total shot column 17 to 4.

Valkanis labelled the win as important, especially after the shock midweek resignation from John van’t Schip who immediately returned home due to family matters.

“I thought the first half was very good and we created enough chances to really win the game more comfortably,” he continued.

“It was a tough week … someone who’s been here for a very long time and part of this club shocked us with the news that he was resigning.

“I think this win was a little bit for John as well.”

Michael Jakobsen returned to City’s starting lineup to strengthen and solidify their defence. In his absence, 19-year-old Ruon Tongyik had been fantastic but according to Valkanis what Jakobsen brings is immeasurable.

“He gives a lot of confidence to the whole team… His experience is unbelievable.”

Joshua Rose and Franjic were also superb, contributing to an all-round defensive effort from City on Friday night, who recorded their first clean sheet since the FFA Cup final triumph over Sydney FC in November.

Valkanis opted for a 4-3-3 formation rather than van’t Schip’s usual 3-4-3.

“4-3-3 [is what] we did a lot of pre-season work on,” Valkanis explained.

“Part of evolving the team and making them capable of playing 3-4-3 is what we were doing with John.

 

“I think the team has improved and learnt how to play in another way … that may come in handy in finals time.

“I don’t think there are many teams who can change like that … it was all part of the plan.”

The win keeps City within reach of the top two teams on the Hyundai A-League table – Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory – but Valkanis is taking things slowly.

“Of course we want to be up the top,” he said.

“[But] to be quite honest, I don’t even look at the ladder … [we will take it] game by game.”

Unfazed by his winning start, the caretaker coach declined to comment on whether he wants the job next season.

“It’s always good to win but for a coach you’re already thinking about the next game”.

 

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Adrian Johnsonhttps://thefootballsack.com.au
A-Grade football fan, C-grade player

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