Melbourne City 2022/23 Season Preview

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After coming up short in the grand final last season and looking towards an ageing core group of players, can Melbourne City continue to strive for A-League Men and potentially AFC Champions League success?

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Last Season…

A-League Men: 1st

Finals: Runners-up

They’ll win the league because…

Even though City are facing an ageing core group of players in Jamie Maclaren, Scott Jamieson, Mathew Leckie and Andrew Nabbout, these players are still some of the best in the league. Especially four-time golden boot winner Maclaren, who is almost guaranteed to score at least 15 goals a season barring any serious injury.

Even still, the next few seasons could see Melbourne City facing the start of a rebuild. Perhaps because of this, in the off-season Director of Football Michael Petrillo and the rest of the Melbourne City recruiting team made some fantastic signings.

Firstly, the Finnish international Thomas Lam, a talented defensive midfielder who has spent the majority of his career in the Dutch Eredivisie over the last decade at clubs such as PEC Zwolle, FC Twente and AZ Alkmaar. Although last season, he was signed to CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria’s top-flight. With a decade of experience in European top-flight football, he could bring a much-needed defensive boost to the squad after the loss of Rostyn Griffiths, who departed the club for fellow City Football Group club Mumbai City.

Another off-season signing for the City boys was Dutch attacking midfielder, Richard van der Venne, who has plied his trade most recently at RKC Waalwijk in the Eredivisie. During his time at RKC Waalwijk last season, he scored nine goals and served up seven assists for the club, adding another option in the number 10 role for Patrick Kisnorbo to choose from. This will most certainly be beneficial as the season progresses, especially after the mid-season World Cup where numerous players in the squad will be surely worn down after a difficult group stage challenge for the Socceroos.

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Van der Venne is an extremely technical player with a high amount of dribbling prowess and has the ability to arrive late into the box and score with a one-touch finish into the top corner. He also possesses the ability to drop deeper and play in a more central midfield role when needed, with his great passing ability he is able to link up play from the defensive to the attacking third of the pitch.

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Patrick Kisnorbo surely will be pleased with the number of options that Van der Venne provides.

With four new first-team players being signed in the off-season, Melbourne City are looking like a team that can build on previous seasons with the aim of righting the wrongs of last season with a rejuvenated squad that can hopefully lead them to a second grand final victory.

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They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

It’s hard to see a club of Melbourne City’s stature finishing low on the table in the upcoming ALM season – something would have to go very wrong for that to happen. Of course, one main problem is injuries, just one or two bad injuries to a few players in the squad could lead to a collapse in form and potentially falling short of finishing in the play-off positions.

Kisnorbo will also be hoping for an improvement from goalkeeper Thomas Glover, who last year had a poor season culminating in Glover letting a few howlers past him, while also struggling with his passing out from the back which Kisnorbo focuses on in Melbourne City’s system, much like his City Football Group counterpart across the pond Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

With backup goalkeeper Matt Sutton not yet looking ready to be an A-League number one, Kisnorbo will be hoping last season was just a speedbump for the former Tottenham academy product and he is able to make a vast improvement in both his shot-stopping and distribution.

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

Jamie Maclaren is currently 23 goals away from breaking the all-time A-League Men’s goal record. Keep a lookout for him to possibly break the record this season.

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The off-season brought…

Depth.

With Nathanial Atkinson being bought by Heart of Midlothian in the Scottish Premiership mid-season and Aiden O’Neill suffering a season-ending injury last year, the Melbourne city bench was often filled with young academy prospects just to fill the numbers. As the season progressed, it was obvious that the starting 11 were suffering from exhaustion which most definitely played a part in their loss to Western United in the grand final.

However, with those young academy prospects getting a few minutes last year and gaining experience with playing and training with the first team, plus the four new signings in the off-season, Melbourne City now have a very nice squad that should be able to last the whole season.

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Key player

Jamie Maclaren. Who else?

He’s the best pure goal scorer in the competition it’s that simple. Over his ALM career to date, he averages an absolutely ridiculous 0.68 goals per game. All that matters now is keeping him fit, if he stays fit there is going to be a very strong possibility that he breaks Besart Berisha’s all-time A-League Men scoring record of 142 goals. Maclaren is currently on 120 goals.

One to watch

Jordan Bos. After having a breakout season last year, being a rotation option for captain Scott Jamieson, the 19-year-old left wing-back looked exciting whenever on the ball with his ability to get to the goal-line and hit the crosses to his forwards outside the six-yard box. He also has the ability to get on the scoring sheet exemplified by his goal of the season contender last season that he hit on the volley from outside the box.

With Jamieson being 34, it could be sooner rather than later that Bos becomes the permanent starting left-back for Melbourne City.

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Ins: Thomas Lam (CSKA Sofia), Richard van der Venne (RKC Waalwijk), Callum Talbot (Sydney FC), Valon Berisha (Stade Reims)

Outs: Connor Metcalfe (FC St. Pauli), Stefan Colakovski (Perth Glory), Tsubasa Endoh (LA Galaxy II), Rostyn Griffiths (Mumbai City), Ahmad Taleb (Melbourne Victory) Manuel Pucciarelli (Without Club), Anthony Lesiotis (Without Club)

Full Squad List

Goalkeepers: Thomas Glover, Matthew Sutton, James Nieuwenhuizen

Defenders: Callum Talbot, Curtis Good, Harry Politidis, Jordan Bos, Jordan Hall, Kerrin Stokes, Nuno Reis, Scott Jamieson, Scott Galloway, Sebastian Esposito

Midfielders: Aiden O’Neill, Arion Sulemani, Emin Durakovic, Florin Berenguer-Bohrer, Jordi Valadon, Luke Oresti, Max Caputo, Richard van der Venne, Taras Gomulka, Thomas Lam, Valon Berisha

Forwards: Andrew Nabbout, Jamie Maclaren, Marco Tilio, Mathew Leckie, Raphael Borges Rodrigues

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Caydn Foley
Football Fanatic. Journalism student hoping to make this a career. Covering Melbourne City for the 22/23 A-Leagues season.

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