Melbourne City continued their love affair with dropping crucial points in second halves in Sunday afternoon’s 2-2 draw against fellow strugglers Central Coast Mariners.
Liam Miller injury replacement
A few weeks ago, City announced the signing of former Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory man Liam Miller on a short-term deal.
The Irishman has since been signed on an injury replacement deal until the end of the calendar year, covering for the injured Jonatan Germano who faces an extended break on the sidelines with an hamstring injury.
Letting another three points slip
The newly assembled nature of the team has been an excuse that many have given to pardon the patchy in-game performances from City. Six rounds in to the new season and despite a lengthy pre-season that came before, the issues of gelling still seem to be an issue with City.
But sporadic periods in the season have seen City perform well, so the issue of gelling seems to be a curious one. Whether that means the off the field dynamics are not working, and creating a spirit of togetherness in the group is proving harder than first thought.
“We’re still stinging a little bit, the boys are obviously disappointed with how we finished,” City’s Erik Paartalu said.
“We started off really well and it’s probably the story of our season so far; starting really well but not finishing games properly.”
Maturity in the squad
Paartalu has experienced a winning mentality before with his time at Brisbane and alluded to maturity in the squad possibly being an issue with the dropping of vital points.
“The boys are getting themselves into the game early and playing some good football,” the former Roar and Muangthong United man said.
“Part of that is to finish off games and seem them out.
“And that just comes from a bit of maturity and having a different mentality to win games.
“It comes from playing together a bit more and hopefully that’s something we can fix.”
The City mentality
The mentality of Melbourne City has been questioned before the start of the season, and with the takeover from the City group a lot perceived the club to be a side filled with mercenaries.
Weeks ago, coach John van’t Schip dismissed claims that results had anything to do with an issue regarding physical preparation, and as the less than stellar results continue the question of mentality in the group looms larger.
Paartalu expressed what he thinks a winning mentality is and how it’s created.
“[Mentality is something] you can’t just switch on like a light switch, it’s something that’s created out on the training pitch,” the midfielder said.
“Not accepting second best and certainly not accepting conceding goals in the 94th minute.
“To have that winning mentality you need to close games out, you need to win ugly and we need to win at home for the fans too.
“That creates a bit of confidence and that creates your mentality.”
The next game
The next obstacle facing Melbourne City is high-flyers Sydney FC on Saturday night at AAMI Park, and with recent injury blows the club from the Harbour city may be vulnerable.
“[Sydney FC] are a good side, we watched them play on the weekend against Melbourne,” Paartalu said.
“But it’s pretty tight this year in the A-League, everyone’s taking points away from each other.
“For us the most pleasing thing is that we’re building and progressing, every week we’re getting better.”
The test for City will be to see if they can hold out for the entire 90 minutes, and win their first home match of the season against an unpredictable but also unbeaten Sydney FC side.
Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 3.Robbie WIELAERT, 5.Erik PAARTALU, 6.Aaron MOOY, 7.Iain RAMSAY, 11.Damien DUFF, 14.James BROWN, 15.David WILLIAMS, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 18.Paulo RETRE, 19.Ben GARUCCIO, 20.Tando VELAPHI (GK), 23.Mate DUGANDZIC, 24.Patrick KISNORBO (c), 25.Jacob MELLING, 26.Marc MARINO, 27.Ross ARCHIBALD, 28.Liam MILLER
***Two to be omitted***
Ins: 6.Aaron MOOY (returns from international duty), 19.Ben GARUCCIO (promoted), 28.Liam MILLER (signed as Injury Replacement Player)
Unavailable: 8.Massimo MURDOCCA (groin – 1-2 weeks), 10.Robert KOREN (calf – 2-3 weeks), 13.Jonatan GERMANO (hamstring – 3-4 weeks)
Sydney FC squad: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (GK), 2.Sebastian RYALL, 3.Sasa OGNENOVSKI, 4.Pedj BOJIC, 6.Nikola PETKOVIC, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 11.Bernie IBINI, 12.Hagi GLIGOR, 13.Christopher NAUMOFF, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 16.Alex GERSBACH, 17.Terry ANTONIS, 18.Peter TRIANTIS, 19.Nick CARLE, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (GK), 21.Mark JANKO, 22.Ali ABBAS
***Two to be omitted***
Ins: 21.Mark JANKO (return from international duty), 17.Terry ANTONIS (returns from international duty)
Unavailable: 7.Corey GAMEIRO (knee – indefinite), 5.Matt JURMAN (knee – 1 week)