Melbourne City Women 2021/22 season preview

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Melbourne City were the disappointment of last season’s A-League Women’s competition, having failed to qualify for the finals as reigning premiers. City have secured four championships in the last six seasons, and they will be looking to make 2021/22 the campaign they bounce right back to the top.

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Last season…

A-League Women’s: 7th

Finals: N/A

They’ll win the league because…

City are a side with championship-winning pedigree. They’ve been A-League Women’s champions four times, the most of any team, and all of those championships have been won in the last six seasons. That kind of record can resonate within a playing group and may play on the minds of opposition sides.

Many of the players who achieved that success for the club have since moved on, but this has paved the way for a squad dominated by young players with huge potential. Of the 11 new players City have brought into the squad, only three were born prior to the year 2000; City are stacked with young talent ready to explode on the national stage, which accompanied by a handful of experienced campaigners, makes them a really dangerous prospect heading into the new season.

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They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

City’s biggest strength may also be their undoing. Whilst having a squad filled to the brim with young talent means that they could take the league by storm and unearth the stars of tomorrow, it equally means they are inexperienced. A lack of experience may lead to inconsistency, and an inability to grind out results.

City will hope veterans like Melissa Barbieri, captain Emma Checker and the returning Rebekah Stott will provide the necessary leadership, but it is a large burden to place on just a handful of players. Further, City suffer from a severe squad imbalance, with plenty of defenders competing for spots, but only a handful of options at the other end of the pitch.

Goalscoring was City’s major drawback last season, having scored the second-fewest goals of any side, and since then they’ve lost attacking threats Alex Chidiac, Rahli Dobson and Chinatsu Kira. Although Kiwi Hannah Wilkinson has the potential to add some much-needed goals, it appears that the overall lack of attacking threat hasn’t been rectified.

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

When Stott takes to the field for the first time this season, she will move into outright first in City’s all-time appearances list for the women’s team with 63.

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The off season brought

A rebuild.

Whilst some of City’s signings like Stott and Wilkinson are hardly undertaking their first preseason, City are clearly a side building towards the future. The number of young players brought in, predominantly from other A-League Women’s sides, indicate that Rado Vidosic has been tasked with rebuilding the side back into the multiple championship-winning juggernaut of the recent past.

Key player

Hannah Wilkinson.

Despite this being her first season in Australia’s domestic competition, the 29-year-old has certainly built herself an impressive CV. Having played her club football in Sweden, Portugal, and most recently Germany, Wilkinson secured her 100th international cap representing New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics.

Wilkinson brings some much-needed experience which will ideally assist with the development of her young teammates, but she is also City’s only striker with high-level experience. Whilst 18-year-old Holly McNamara is also an option, it seems inevitable that substantial responsibility will fall on Wilkinson’s shoulders to score most of City’s goals.

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One to watch

Rhianna Pollicina.

Having secured the Newcastle Jet’s player of the year award last season, the 24-year-old is one of the brightest young stars in the competition. Although still very early into her A-League Women’s career, having made just 16 appearances, Pollicina was highly impressive in the Newcastle midfield last season, unsurprisingly catching the eye of Melbourne City. The former young Matilda should be allowed to play a crucial role in City’s midfield, whilst offering some much needed attacking threat with her daring runs and intelligent passing.

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Ins: Rebekah Stott (Bulleen Lions), Hannah Wilkinson (MSV Duisburg), Rhianna Pollicina (Newcastle Jets), Kaitlyn Torpey (Brisbane Roar), Sally James (Canberra United), Holly McNamara (Footbal NSW Institute), Darcey Malone (Sydney FC), Caitlin Karic (new), Leticia McKenna (Brisbane Roar), Marisa van der Meer (Canterbury United Pride), Meisha Westland (Lions FC)

Outs: Alex Chidiac, Rhali Dobson, Chinatsu Kira, Noor Hoelsbrekken Eckhoff, Samantha Johnson, Harriet Withers, Sarah Cain, Jenna McCormick, Margot Robinne, Hollie Palmer, Teagan Micah, Teigen Allen

Full squad list

Goalkeepers: Melissa Barbieri, Sally James

Defenders: Chelsea Blissett, Emma Checker (c), Rebekah Stott, Tori Tumeth, Kaitlyn Torpey, Naomi Chinnama, Tyla-Jay Vlajnic, Marisa van der Meer

Midfielders: Rhianna Pollicina, Leah Davidson, Darcey Malone, Leticia McKenna, Meisha Westland

Forwards: Hannah Wilkinson, Holly McNamara, Caitlin Karic

Feature Image Credit: Melbourne City FC

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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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