Milicic bemoans Macarthur’s misfortune as season threatens to derail

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Macarthur FC coach Ante Milicic was filled with apathy as he lamented his side’s inconsistent playing schedule and unpredictable refereeing.

Macarthur slumped to their second consecutive 3-1 loss on Wednesday following their defeat to Melbourne City.

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The Bulls have conceded 20 goals in their last nine games, with only one clean sheet coming in that time.

All nine of their games in 2022 have come following a January period in which Macarthur did not play a single match, predominantly due to Covid postponements.

“When we came back after 36 days you could see that we were not the same team in terms of our momentum or confidence,” Milicic said.

“But also, 90 percent of the squad had Covid. The effect of that is players are not at the required fitness levels to play out games.

“We are forced to take off players early because we have another game on Saturday. In normal circumstances, Apostolos [Giannou] stays on for 90.”

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Clearly, Macarthur are a very different team to the one seen early in the season.

The Bulls started their season with three clean sheets in their first four A-League Men games, offering a stark contrast to their present predicament.

Considering the injuries to some of Macarthur’s key players, Milicic admitted that juggling everything within his squad whilst trying to get results is a major struggle.

“To find that fine line between keeping your team together, keeping them fit, getting confidence, getting results, getting momentum; there is a lot to it,” Milicic said.

Macarthur’s coach nonetheless remains hopeful that his side will once again find their form in the latter stages of the season.

“I have full confidence in our squad,” he said.

“This competition has shown that on any given day you can win a game of football.

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It is just that kind of season.

“We are going through a difficult period at the moment, but I think other teams will face similar scenarios.”

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As well as the widely understood challenges of injuries and Covid-enforced breaks, Milicic also highlighted the difficulties of the extreme weather in Sydney which has disrupted Macarthur’s training schedule.

The Bulls trained during their stay in Melbourne, however, Milicic believes that it is crucial that his team is able to train more often ahead of their congested end to the season.

“We need to train,” he said.

“With all things being equal, I am confident we can finish the season strongly.”

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The former Matildas coach’s exasperation was not reserved exclusively for his own team’s misfortune though.

When quizzed about the penalty his side conceded, Milicic responded in a fashion befitting an exhausted supporter perhaps more than a coach.

“I will be perfectly honest – I don’t care”, Milicic said.

“It isn’t going to change; I don’t expect any decisions to be better or worse.

“When it comes to those decisions nothing surprises me.”

Macarthur’s coach stressed that his apathy extended to refereeing decisions in other games in which his team is not playing.

“It is not just for my team,” he said.

“Sometimes I will watch a game and I see decisions which can cost coaches their jobs. Thankfully I am not afraid to lose my job.”

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Milicic’s words were awash with the kind of frustration felt by fans throughout recent A-Leagues seasons.

Undoubtedly the unique nature of the challenges faced by clubs in recent years provide coaches with an unending headache as they seek to balance player welfare with on-field performances.

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Milicic is clearly of the opinion that matters relating to refereeing are not worth his time.

A somewhat understandable, or perhaps even wise, approach considering the uncontrollable nature of officiating.

For Macarthur, their season has been unpredictable at best.

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An immediate return to some kind of form or rhythm is essential if they are to hold onto their finals spot leading into May.

Feature Image Credit: Macarthur 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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