It’s time for Melbourne City to make their mark on the A-League

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    Can Melbourne City get past Newcastle to reach the grand final? (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

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    Melbourne City could be the club we all love to hate, but their brief history has largely been marked by indifference. Is tonight the night that all changes?

    There’s a lot to like about Melbourne City from a neutral standpoint.

    They’ve given us Bruno Fornaroli and brought back Luke Brattan. They’ve revitalised the likes of Dario Vidosic and Oliver Bozanic and Stefan Mauk.

    They’ve introduced seasoned European pros like Bart Schenkeveld and Michael Jakobsen, and their stadium resembles the sort of football cathedrals we see in Europe.

    They even had Tim Cahill for a while.

    Why, then, do they engender so much indifference?

    It’s partly because Melbourne Victory are the most parochially backed side in the league.

    Say what you will about Bleak City, but there’s no denying the fact that Victory fans are a ravenous bunch at the best of times.

    It’s this sort of partisanship that ‘Team 11′ is trying to tap into with an expansion bid representing south-east Melbourne.

    However, hampered by sharing their stadium with Victory, a rebadged City haven’t quite managed to attract the same level of support.

    It didn’t help that the old Melbourne Heart was a bit of a non-entity.

    The missing point of difference with Victory was one of the most discussed elements of the Heart era.

    But now that the City Football Group are busy polishing another English Premier League trophy – and no doubt having a quiet word to Ange Postecoglou up in Yokohama as well – their focus should by rights return to the A-League.

    So we should all care, especially if City go on and win the championship.

    It shouldn’t be forgotten that they did everything they could to try and keep Ross McCormack. The Scottish striker finished as the league’s third-best goal scorer this season, despite playing just 17 games.

    Ross McCormack Melbourne City

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    And the burly McCormack – who hasn’t featured in a single Aston Villa squad since returning to England – turned out to be one of the more inspired signings of the season.

    So why should we begrudge a club which year after year brings down entertainers like Fornaroli and McCormack and the sadly missed Fernando Brandan?

    And when is the A-League going to do something useful with the salary cap?

    How is it actually helping if clubs that show some initiative lose players like McCormack – or worse still, Melbourne Victory star Leroy George – while others like the Central Coast Mariners don’t even spend the full amount available?

    Isn’t a cap designed to act as an equalising measure simply holding back the bigger clubs, and robbing the A-League of the sort of players who might actually bring some fans through the gate?

    If they weren’t so busy trying to stall for time to ward off FIFA’s advances, the first thing on Football Federation Australia’s agenda should be to revamp the salary cap.

    Or get rid of it altogether.

    And they should take a look at some more realistic ticket prices while they’re at it.

    “We listened to the feedback from last year’s finals and dropped ticket prices across the board to allow families to attend,” was the headline quote from Greg O’Rourke in the build-up to the finals.

    Yeah, yeah Greg… we’ve heard it all before. And there’s that magic word again: “families”.

    You sometimes wonder whether you’re supposed to be attending a football game or a Wiggles concert.

    But putting aside the fact that many of the young fans who actually create the atmosphere inside A-League grounds are kids themselves, ticket prices for the finals series are still too high.

    That’s not a problem for O’Rourke – he doesn’t pay for his tickets – but it is for fans expected to shell out an eye-watering $69 plus booking fee for a City Gold ticket tonight.

    No wonder the seats on halfway are always empty.

    That shouldn’t take away from what will be a blockbuster clash at AAMI Park.

    Hated and proud? Melbourne City just need to do something memorable first.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist since December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (83)

    • April 20th 2018 @ 7:47am
      Kangajets said | April 20th 2018 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      Vidosic Fornaroli and Arzani , with that trio , they should be winning . Arzani has caused fullbacks some nightmares when I’ve watched him play .

      I agree that not differentiate in geography from
      Victory that Melbourne City have probably not garnered the support they would like

      The salary cap .. geez… a free cap sounds great if it does actually attract top players , but I think it sounds the death of actual competition. The 2 richest clubs will win every year like in Spain and I think the A league will collapse as why would the other clubs bother to be cannon fodder .

      • April 20th 2018 @ 9:05am
        fadida said | April 20th 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        I’m not sure about that Kanga. Jets, Nix, CCM have been cannon fodder for years with a cap.

        Perhaps without a cap they’d get bigger crowds and ratings when the big clubs come to town, with hopefully a few star names that aren’t Simon.

        • April 20th 2018 @ 9:52am
          Kangajets said | April 20th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report


          I don’t know the answer to a salary cap

          I do know that in seasons 1 2 and 3 the jets made the finals and attracted high crowds often about 17000 , the mariners away games were almost sold out too because ccm were good

          When the jets became cannon fodder they eventually plunged down to a regular 8000, which even this season we have seen how hard it is to get people to come back and watch .. despite on field success

          It comes down to what we want …

          A pyramid league with the rich teams winning every year and a Leicester City every 30 years
          Or a proper and bigger salary cap , which is like the Nrl , where no team has gone back to back in 25 years …

          As for the mariners not spending their entire cap , their owner needs to decide if he really wants to own an A league club or let someone else buy it , who is going to treat the mariners fans properly.

          • April 20th 2018 @ 1:20pm
            fadida said | April 20th 2018 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

            The difference with the Nrl is that they aren’t in competition with other leagues for players. It is the highest quality comp in the world, see also AFL.

            A capped league reduces the quality of players and therefore onfield quality. People can watch other football comps instead. It also hinders us in the ACL, again not a problem other codes face.

            • April 20th 2018 @ 2:30pm
              Kangajets said | April 20th 2018 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

              I see your point re nrl

              They did lose players to richer rugby union clubs in Australia France and English league clubs too about 10 yeas ago

              The nrl implemented the third party payments to keep their best players in the nrl .

            • April 22nd 2018 @ 3:23pm
              Leonard said | April 22nd 2018 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

              “A capped league reduces the quality of players and therefore onfield quality” – mmmm, looks like one of the claimed consequences of opening a closed or heavily sheltered market in economics. Despite (understandable but unrealised) fears at the time, the removal of many tariffs in the Hawke-Keating era did not cause mass starvation, widespread poverty and permanent 25% unemployment. In general terms, our quality of life and quantum of wealth has increased.

              So, maybe, could the same apply to Association Football here?

          • April 20th 2018 @ 1:21pm
            Michael Mills said | April 20th 2018 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

            Surely the premiership is a better measure of how the effective the salary cap is.

            (This is not a premiership v championship argument, simply an observation that the premiership is a measure of who had the strongest squad over a season, and therefore a good measure of how effective the cap is at balancing these squads.)

            Only six of the 13 teams have won the premiership, and only one of the past six has come from outside of the three largest cities.

            I’d argue it’s not as effective as you are saying.

            I don’t think the cap, as it is currently formed, is doing the game any favours in chasing growth.

            We need to at least discuss alternative measures to balance the comp, without tethering teams to the lowest common denominator.

            We could explore the soft cap and luxury tax combo that the NBA uses, for example. We could make all foreign players exempt from the cap. We could introduce transfer fees to compensate clubs who develop young talent etc.

            The current cap design only really suits sports that don’t have a global labour competition. (Not a dig at other codes, either.)

      • April 20th 2018 @ 9:19am
        Nick Symonds said | April 20th 2018 @ 9:19am | ! Report

        “The salary cap .. geez… a free cap sounds great if it does actually attract top players , but I think it sounds the death of actual competition. The 2 richest clubs will win every year like in Spain and I think the A league will collapse as why would the other clubs bother to be cannon fodder .”

        It’s not just the lack of a salary cap that allows Real Madrid and Barcelona to dominate, it’s the revenue sharing model, even the new one.

        “Barcelona, unsurprisingly, led the way, having earned a mammoth €146.2 million last season, with Real Madrid snapping at their heels with €140 million. Next came Atlético Madrid, whose rights revenue reached €99 million, while strugglers Alaves and Leganes earned just €39.6 million each.

        Athletic Bilbao were fourth highest in the income distribution table with €71 million – less than half that of Barcelona – while Valencia were fifth with €67.4 million.

        It is clear then, that even though the new TV rights distribution model has ensured a more equal sharing of wealth, cutting the ratio from top to bottom teams from almost 8:1 in 2014/15 to 4:1 in 2016/17, the gap between the top and bottom earners remains significant.”

        • April 20th 2018 @ 9:35am
          Kris said | April 20th 2018 @ 9:35am | ! Report

          Barcelona as a semi-national team also gets a great deal from media coverage, is able to lose money most years under no fear of a bank being brave enough to call in their debts, gets favourable tax deals from the Catalan government and has regularly received illegal grants from the Catalan government. (as have Real Madrid of course)

          • April 22nd 2018 @ 3:27pm
            Leonard said | April 22nd 2018 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

            Why would Real Madrid get grants from the Catalan government? (And given the latest rift between Madrid and Barcelona, they won’t ever.)

            • April 22nd 2018 @ 9:51pm
              Kangajets said | April 22nd 2018 @ 9:51pm | ! Report

              Real Madrid have been sponsored by the Spanish government , not Catalonia

    • April 20th 2018 @ 7:56am
      Buddy said | April 20th 2018 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      A bit of a mixed rant? It is difficult to find suitable headspace for MC unless you are already a fan either from Heart days or at the mouthwatering thought of the City group taking over. In their first incarnation they just appeared on the scene as a possible alternative to MV but without rhyme nor reason and to many older football fans, the naming left a bit to be desired. It is on record that names such as Heart, Lightning, Breakers etc all appear to juniors and young fans so perhaps that was the idea all along although it begs the question, who takes them along or introduces children in the first place?
      When the new owners came in I think many people expected an immediate transformation into a superpower and expected quality coaching, quality players and quality football. Whilst there has been a marked improvement there have been plenty of occasions when the performances have been somewhat underwhelming. Turning on the tv to watch MC always has a question mark hovering; asking what version are we going to see this week? Early in the season when I was expecting them to step up and really perform against SFC they disappointed albeit by a single goal but they have gone on to lose twice more to the current champions and rather convincingly last time around. Will they make worthy opponents? Doubtful, but football occasionally brings surprises and change.
      BTW going to AAMI to watch them without home membership and in good seats is around the same price as being quoted for finals tickets. For what I paid for two tickets I could have purchased double the number for reasonable seats in Sydney at either club.

      • April 20th 2018 @ 9:44am
        Kangajets said | April 20th 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        Yeah the ticket cost issue bugs me too

        People will pay what they think is a fair price

        Hence people are going to npl games for 10 dollars , because it’s the right price

        69 dollars for A league is too much

        Jets semi final, family of four is about 112 , I think there is a cheaper option , but it sold out quickly.
        112 by 4 sounds ok , until you’re the parent paying for this plus petrol etc

        20 dollar tickets would see a sell out of 30,000 in Newcastle in a fortnight.

        • Roar Guru

          April 20th 2018 @ 1:54pm
          Griffo said | April 20th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

          It’s more to do with how desperate you are to go than paying what you think is fair.

          FFA have set the price, which I suspect some people won’t go due to the cost. Again there is that line between cost vs crowd number.

          If the Jets were setting the ticket price it would be fairer for sure.

        • April 20th 2018 @ 4:20pm
          LuckyEddie said | April 20th 2018 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

          Anything will sell out if it’s cheap to get in. WAFL got big crowds at the start nut had a big 7k at the final because people had to start paying. It’s final football and you have to expect tp pay a reasonable amount. It’s not the FFA’s job to provide child rebate prices, that’s what the govt does.

    • April 20th 2018 @ 7:58am
      Salvatore Toto Schillachi said | April 20th 2018 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      Melbourne City have brought some very solid international players out , however these are not the names that will make a eurosnob go all gooey . The eurosnobs would rather see a James Milner then Bart Schenkeveld

      • Roar Guru

        April 20th 2018 @ 1:38pm
        Grobbelaar said | April 20th 2018 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

        good point
        ps that’s not how you spell Schillaci – what a great horse, but did not like a wet track

        • April 20th 2018 @ 5:49pm
          Kangajets said | April 20th 2018 @ 5:49pm | ! Report

          The mighty grey schilllachee trained by the freedmans
          I think Baggio ran in a cox plate in 1993

          A great era for Australian thoroughbreds with Italian names

          Newcastle trainer Paul Perry won some races with pele and Van nistelrooy got around for Rossy Stitt of Taree .

          Berisha races in Melbourne

          Pretty sure Winx is named after Harry Winx

    • Roar Guru

      April 20th 2018 @ 8:01am
      Grobbelaar said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:01am | ! Report

      Finally, some coverage of the A-League finals from a significant media personality.

      Such is the paucity of mainstream media coverage, one would not be aware that the A-League finals are on, or that the A-League still exists.

    • Roar Guru

      April 20th 2018 @ 8:28am
      Rick Disnick said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:28am | ! Report

      WSW aren’t in the finals so who cares!

      Clearly, I’m right — no code war articles resulting in very few comments and discussion across all threads this week. Not great leading into the finals.

      This forum needs to lift its game.

      GO WSW 2018-19!

      • April 20th 2018 @ 8:55am
        fadida said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:55am | ! Report

        Israel Folau and his belief in fairies at the bottom of the garden has stitched up the media for the week

        • April 20th 2018 @ 4:22pm
          LuckyEddie said | April 20th 2018 @ 4:22pm | ! Report

          Grow up and have respect for other peoples beliefs. If you are going to argue against the Bible at least read it first instead of making juvenile inane comments. Either that or do journalism and get a job at the ABC.

      • April 20th 2018 @ 10:14am
        Ablett s dodgy hamstring said | April 20th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        You find the code rant article is rugby league vs afl today .. our friend grobelaar is praising the afl … so I’ll stick up for rugby league 😂

        Wsw had a poor season , unfortunately your predictions of them being the biggest juggernaut in football will have to wait another year .

        • April 20th 2018 @ 11:00am
          Buddy said | April 20th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

          more than another year unless the senior management get their act together but there’s a lot of doubt and possible lack of talent too (off the field I mean)

      • April 20th 2018 @ 10:20am
        Ian said | April 20th 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report

        You should write an article about your love affair with Man City/Chelsea (choose whichever team is performing best at any given time) and why Spanish teams are more popular.

    • April 20th 2018 @ 9:01am
      fadida said | April 20th 2018 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      Agree re the salary cap Mike, it is holding back clubs from fulfiing their potential. It clearly isn’t equalizing anything so let the likes of City build a monster squad. It also help in the ACL

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