Second half syndrome for City

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The second halves of games have troubled Melbourne City this season, and it was more of the same in their 2-1 loss against Adelaide United. City struggled to stay with United in last week’s Friday night clash, going behind in the second half courtesy of a Marcelo Carrusca penalty.

The Kennedy Factor

Melbourne City announced the signing of Australian international Josh Kennedy in midweek. However, the Socceroo won’t meet up with his new teammates until some time in January, as he awaits the end of his current contract with J-League side Nagoya Grampus.

Kennedy will take up the club’s Australian marquee slot, and on the field he will replace the now jettisoned David Villa who left the club after four games of his ten match guest stint.

Kennedy’s fitness is not a concern for City with head coach John van’t Schip saying “he had a good medical, there are no issues” and that the club’s medical staff will keep in “contact” with him in the lead up to the second half of the season.

City are now faced with a task of finding a rhythm of play and forging a style after so much flux in the recent weeks and months. How will the side cope without a recognised striker for the best part of three months, and then create a quick transition for their newly acquired front man when he finally takes to the pitch?

“We worked on [the signing] for a few weeks, and we’re happy we signed Josh [Kennedy] up,” John van’t Schip said.

“It would be difficult [to sign him before January], we knew the only option was from January.

“We’ll have to adapt also to his way of playing but I don’t think we’ll change the style in a big way.”

Mental focus

In-game focus has been something that has held City back in games this season, with the side struggling to tie together a full 90-minute performance.

Van’t Schip has highlighted the problem as a “mental” issue, as opposed to anything physical after the derby defeat a fortnight ago. And now with the challenge of Brisbane Roar on the horizon, who are also winless, the mental edge is so important.

Brisbane are synonymous for punishing sides who falter in any capacity, especially concentration lapses. Although the Roar have struggled for form in the opening rounds the quality nucleolus of their championship side remains.

“Games up there [in Brisbane] you have to be there until the last minute, last seconds, 90 minutes plus” Van’t Schip said.

“[Brisbane] always score in the last part of a game, because of the way they play.

“Mentally it’s going to be a very important game for the team, and that’s something we have to show.”

Distractions

With David Villa now off to New York and away from the Melbourne media spotlight, things have quieted down around Melbourne City. Club captain Patrick Kisnorbo admitted that Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer was “maybe a little bit” of a distraction around the club.

“Obviously he’s a big, big player, there’s no doubt about it,” Kisnorbo said.

“There’s less media, people don’t really come to training any more to watch us train.

“But at the end of the day we just had to worry about ourselves and that’s what we’re going to do now.”

But unlike his captain, coach John van’t Schip didn’t find the Spaniards’ time in Melbourne a distraction.

“I have never found it a distraction, so I don’t know where that comes from,” Van’t Schip said.

Ahmed Yussuf

ahmed mag pic Ahmed is a Melbourne-based writer, and one of the founders of Football Central. He's written in football culture magazine Thin White Line and others, and along with writing puff pieces, he hosts and produces podcasts in association with Football Central.  You can follow him on Twitter: @ahmedyussuf10

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