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Opinion

2020-21 A-League preview: Can City go one step further and win it all?

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18th December, 2020
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After the disappointment of losing the grand final, Melbourne City will be looking to bounce back and again be their at the pointy end of the season, hoping to go one step up and be champions at the end of the season.

City have retained a decent squad from last year, and have added some new faces that will provide valuable service, and have former City player Patrick Kisnorbo as head coach in the A-League for the first time after stints with the youth and W-League City sides.

Goalkeepers
City have emerging goalkeeper Tom Glover returning to the club after a fantastic 2020 for the young goalkeeper. The former Tottenham Hotspur youth player had a breakout period during the return in July and August period, winning the young footballer of the month award for the July-August period.

After 15 games, the majority being in the return-to-football stage, Glover seems to have himself finally locked in as number one goalkeeper, and will be wanting to continue his development by playing more matches, which will no doubt solidify him as the number one goalkeeper for the Olyroos come the Olympics.

Matthew Sutton joined City from Victory, and will be looking to find minutes where he can. If City qualify for the Asian Champions League (through the play-offs), Sutton may find himself getting games to ease the load from likely number one Tom Glover.

Defenders
City have a large range of fullbacks in their squad that they have at their disposal. Club captain Scott Jamieson played predominantly at left back in just about every game last year bar a few, mainly at the end of the season when he had to leave the hub.

On the other side City usually switched between Scott Galloway and Nathaniel Atkinson, with Atkinson being favoured on the right side towards the second half of the season. Both are capable of scoring and setting up goals, with Galloway scoring a cracker against Wellington Phoenix in Round 4 last season.

Atkinson will be desperate for the starting right back position so he can show Graham Arnold that he deserves a spot in the Olyroos squad after being suspended from the under-23 side for the qualification period earlier in the year.

Nathaniel Atkinson

(Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

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City also have Harrison Delbridge, who occasionally played at right back for City, in particularly in the finals period. But after Richard Windbichler’s departure, he is likely to play predominantly centre back. A good defender, Delbridge will be vital to City’s success, and the club will be hoping he improves his discipline after three red cards last season. The rumour going around is that he has offers from MLS, Asia and other A-League clubs, but City fans will be hoping he will stay.

Curtis Good remains with the club and had his first full season in a long time after having several injuries throughout the year. He was very important to City making the grand final last year, and will be wanting to have another full fit season.

Ben Garuccio returns to the club after stints at Adelaide United and in Scotland with Heart of Midlothian. A very attacking full back, he had a breakout season with Adelaide United before moving to Scotland where he was a regular with Hearts before his ACL injury. He can also be used on the wing. Garuccio will be hoping to make his return from injury and put his name back in potential Socceroos circles as he was before injury.

City also have youngsters to call upon if needed, including Kerrin Stokes, Lucas Portelli and Mitchell Graham. City will be wanting to find one more centre back to back up Delbridge and Good, and have a visa spot available after Windbichler’s departure.

Midfielders
City have A-League veteran Rostyn Griffiths returning to the club. A versatile player, Griffiths was used in both the defensive midfield role and centre back, which may be a position he sees more of with City’s lack of centre backs.

Aiden O’Neill joins the club after having loan stints at the Roar and Mariners. O’Neill, another Olyroos player wanting to cement a squad in the national team, will be wanting to fill the role that has been left by Josh Brillante. They have also acquired Taras Gomulka from Adelaide United. Gomulka had a very impressive period in the hub where he started all of the games for the Reds. He is another one who would be wanting to fill the role Brillante has left.

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Connor Metcalfe will be looking to continue his development, after 16 games last year, with most of his games missed due to Olyroos duty. Used in all parts of midfield last year, Metcalfe is capable of scoring goals as well, scoring a cracker in a Olyroos friendly against Macarthur.

City then have the imports who complete their midfield. Frenchman Florin Bérenguer returns for his third season at City, after a much improved second season. Bérenguer was important to the City midfield and was pivotal to their success, showing what he is capable of in the Melbourne derby in Round 18 last season. He will be looking to add a few more goals into his game next season.

Adrián Luna remains at the club, after a successful first season where he quickly became a fan favourite with a City fans. He played just about every game last season, and fitted in well in the A-League and with the City squad. Another big season is required from him for a title push from City.

Their latest recruit is Japanese youngster Naoki Tsubaki, who has joined the club on loan from fellow City Football Group club Yokohama F Marinos. The attacking midfield played 34 games for Giravanz Kitakyushu in the J2 League. Tsubaki will be wanting to get games into his belt and develop confidence so he can eventually become a midfielder back home at Yokohama.

City also have youngsters Idrus Abdulahi and Bernardo Oliveira waiting in the wings as well if needed, the latter being the son of Adelaide United legend Cassio.

Attackers
The Melbourne City attack is headlined by star striker Jamie Maclaren, who is coming off a golden boot-winning season.

Jamie Maclaren

(Mike Owen/Getty Images)

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After scoring 23 goals in 25 matches last season, Maclaren will want to repeat his previous season, and continue to cement himself as one of Australia’s best strikers. He could become the second A-League player to reach 100 goals if he manages another 20-goal-plus season.

Englishman Craig Noone returns to the club after a successful first year. The winger scored five goals and set up eight others and was a vital player in City’s attack. The likely attacking trio is rounded off with Andrew Nabbout, who has joined the club from rivals Melbourne Victory.

Nabbout had a relatively good season for Melbourne Victory, scoring eight goals in 22 matches. He will provide another source of goals for City, and could create a front three with Maclaren and Noone, which could strike fear in the defence of other clubs.

City also have youngsters Marco Tilio and Stefan Colakovski waiting if needed. Both are very highly rated by people at City and in the A-League.

Verdict
Patrick Kisnorbo has one of the more talented squads in the country at the moment, but he no doubt will have pressure on him from the City Football Group to lift this group one step to a championship.

With their squad just about complete, they are looking for one more centre back to provide extra cover and depth in case of injury to Delbridge or Good.

They have one of the best midfields and attacks in the country, and it is an expectation that they will be in the grand final once again and this time win it.

It is also an expectation that they get through the qualification period of the Champions League and qualify for the group stage.

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