Melbourne City 2021/22 Season Preview

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The defending champions have been a model of stability over the off season. Can they build on their historic championship and premiership success to create a dynasty?

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Last season…

A-League Men’s: 1st

Finals: Champions

They’ll win the league because…

The defending champions could hardly have been more impressive last season. Winning their first ever premiership, before romping to their first championship despite the absence of breakaway Golden Boot winner Jamie Maclaren, defensive stalwart Curtis Good and midfield star Connor Metcalfe. Melbourne City finally looked like the dominant force many predicted they would become after their City Football Group takeover. The problem for the other 11 teams is that not much has changed for City. If anything, they’ve gotten better.

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The core of the team remains intact, with the likes of Maclaren, Good, Metcalfe, Andrew Nabbout, Aiden O’Neill and Nuno Reis ready to go again for the champions. They’ve also added some serious quality and experience to their already league-best attack, with the signings of Socceroo Matthew Leckie and former Serie A striker Manuel Pucciarelli more than making up for the departures of Adrian Luna and Craig Noone.

Add to this, the extra pre-season for young guns like Stefan Colakovski and Marco Tilio (who has recently re-signed with the club), and it’s hard to see City going backwards. Head coach Patrick Kisnorbo has also re-committed to the club – an indication that everyone at Melbourne City appears intent on achieving long-term success.

 

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

Whilst it’s hard to see how City could be anywhere other than fighting for silverware, everything may not be as simple as it sounds.

Firstly, Patrick Kisnorbo is still a very inexperienced coach. Whilst he did nothing but impress in his first season in charge of City’s men’s team, Kisnorbo has never faced the challenge of guiding a team in its title defence. The coach has been steadfast in his assertions that his team are still as hungry as ever, but perhaps City’s new status as the team to beat will put unforeseen pressure on Kisnorbo and his side.

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City will also be keen to improve their defensive record, with three teams letting in fewer goals than the champions last season. Jordon Hall should provide good defensive cover, but a couple of injuries at the back may leave City relying on a handful of inexperienced defenders.

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

No side in A-League Men’s history has been able to successfully defend both the premiership and championship. Melbourne City could be primed to be the first.

The off season brought

Stability. Melbourne City have been very impressive in the way they’ve tied down several key figures at the club to multi-year contracts, including head coach Kisnorbo and star players Maclaren, Nabbout, Scott Jamieson, and Tilio. The gaps left by the departing Luna and Noone have been filled by Leckie and Pucciarelli, with Hall providing some much needed defensive squad depth. All of the key young players from last season including Tom Glover, Nathaniel Atkinson, Connor Metcalfe and Aiden O’Neill have stuck around to defend their title too.

 

Key player

Jamie Maclaren. It’s hard to look past last season’s golden boot winner, who scored 11 more goals than his closest competitor in 2020/21. 25 goals in 24 games is a simply ridiculous scoring rate of over one per game. If he can keep fit, City have surely locked in another season of high-scoring football. Then again, they dominated the finals series and won the premiership without him…

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One to watch

Marco Tilio. The 20-year-old superstar stole all of the headlines during the second half of last season, and especially in the finals series where his performances were electric. Since then, he’s represented and scored for the Olyroos against Argentina at the Olympics.

The eyes of Australian football will be locked on the Sydney FC academy product to see if he can reproduce his form from last season, and perhaps become the next breakout star of Australian football (if he isn’t already). Where he fits into City’s stacked side will be interesting to see unfold.

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Ins: Matthew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Manuel Pucciarelli (Chievo Verona), Jordon Hall (Green Gully)

Outs: Craig Noone, Adrian Luna, Ben Garuccio, Naoki Tsubaki, Ramy Najjarine, Moudi Najjar

Full squad list

Goalkeepers: Thomas Glover, Matthew Sutton, Ahmad Taleb

Defenders: Scott Galloway, Scott Jamieson, Nuno Reis, Nathaniel Atkinson, Curtis Good, Kerrin Stokes, Mitchell Graham, Alec Mills, Jordon Hall

Midfielders: Rostyn Griffiths, Aiden O’Neill, Florin Berenguer, Taras Gomulka, Connor Metcalfe, Anthony Lesiotis, Luke Oresti

Forwards: Jamie Maclaren, Andrew Nabbout, Stefan Colakovski, Marco Tilio, Raphael Borges Rodrigues, Max Caputo, Matthew Leckie, Manuel Pucciarelli

Feature Image Credit: Melbourne City FC

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Oscar Rutherford
Oscar Rutherford
Sports tragic studying Law/Arts at Monash University. Second-best paid Oscar working in football who has been to China.

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