What Macarthur FC need to change for next season

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Macarthur finished their second A-League Men’s campaign with little to show for it…

Albeit by an inch rather than a mile, their failure to clinch a finals spot demands a post-mortem. Should the Bulls achieve a rise in fortunes next season, they ought to get moving before a ball is kicked.

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Macarthur began the 2021/22 season in a scramble.

The eyebrow-raising arrivals of Craig Noone, Tomi Juric and Ulises Dávila applied a coat of paint just about thick enough to cover the gaping cracks left by those that departed. Matt Derbyshire, Mark Milligan, Adam Federici – big names out meant big names in.

One has to wonder how well the club would have faired had they not had a manager with an established relationship with what remained of their squad; A steady canvas onto which Ante Milicic could splash his new talent, Jackson Pollock-ing his way to a decent, rag-tag ALM side.

With new, unproven and inexperienced Dwight Yorke announced as next season’s head coach, Macarthur will need a far steadier off-season with regard to player turnaround.

Some of the aforementioned talent that was introduced prior to the start of the 2021/22 season has been hugely influential. Noone and Macarthur’s player of the season, Dávila finished with nine goal involvements each – the highest at the club. Central Coast Mariners recruit, Daniel De Silva joins Noone with the most assists (4).

In the summer of last year, Macarthur lost 78 per cent of their goals from the season prior and 64% of their assists. The same out of control blood loss cannot reoccur with a new coach coming through the door. Macarthur must improve the retention of their finest players to carry out next season on steadier ground.

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Revisiting the arrivals at the head of the 2021/22 season, not all recruitments went to plan. This is largely understandable and can even be forgiven seeing as how rushed their appointments were; Milicic left frantically grabbing players like chocolate eggs from off the ground after the naughty kid in the class smacked his basket out of his hand.

One such player that failed to hit the heights set out for him is Jordon Mutch. With his wealth of Premier League and Championship experience, the midfielder’s reputation preceded him upon arrival. In his 21 appearances for Macarthur in the season just gone, he failed to record a single goal involvement.

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Hopes were also high for former Socceroo Juric when he was announced as a Bull. A proven ALM striker with weight to his name and goals in his resumé; he looked set to fill the Derbyshire-shaped hole in Macarthur’s squad. Whether through a desperation-driven oversight on a fitness red flag or just rotten luck, the Australian could contribute almost nothing to Macarthur’s season.

Juric managed just 189 minutes of football in an injury-plagued campaign. Either in an act of footballing mercy or a cry of “I’m still here” to Bulls fans, he tucked away a penalty in Macarthur’s final game of the season.

Yorke and his staff will hope to execute a careful and successful summer window in the build-up to his first season in charge. With more time in which to ponder and less chaos through which to plow, his recruitments should be able to hit the ground running.

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Macarthur fans are unlikely to forget the start their team made to the 2021/22 season. A defiant 1-0 win against Sydney FC set into action a four-game winning streak that rocketed them to the top of the table. A dire drop in form would need to be around the corner for them to surrender their lofty status, and soon enough it came.

Perhaps no comparison tells the tale better than that between their first and last five games. The Bulls took 13 points from a possible 15 in their opening five matches. In their last five, they claimed only four.

The new coaching regime at Macarthur will hope to keep their team’s engine running long into the back end of the season. Whilst it is not unfeasible that the energy of Yorke as a new, eager coach could bring about a fast start for his side; longevity and resilience at the death seem further from a likely reality.

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Whilst there is plenty of housekeeping to be done at Campbelltown Stadium, Macarthur’s third season will begin off the back of a decent second. Just one place short of a finals appearance and with an injection of albeit unproven energy, the Bulls will be raring to charge come the season opener.

Feature Image Credit: Macarthur FC

Statistics sourced from: Ultimate A-League and FBref

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Tom Macraehttp://medium.com/@macraetomr23
Communications undergrad at Western Sydney University covering Macarthur FC in the 2021/22 season. Newcastle United. Jack Grealish fangirl.

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