We preview the league’s ‘new’ boys Melbourne City ahead of the upcoming A-League season.
Melbourne Heart – as they were then known – got off to a horrible start which resulted in the sacking of coach John Aloisi.
John van’t Schip returned to the club mid-way through the season and almost guided the side towards a miraculous finals spot, but it wasn’t to be as the Heart were punished by its terrible start to the year and finished on the bottom of the table.
Without doubt the biggest news to come out of the 2013-14 season was the decision to sell the club to the City Group.
A change of name and club colours, as well as handy additions such as David Villa and Damien Duff, means a renewed sense of optimism for the La Trobe University-based club.
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The on-field changes have been nothing short of massive.
David Villa, Damien Duff and Robert Koren headline the international additions, while the astute pick ups of Aaron Mooy, Erik Paartalu and Connor Chapman means that City won’t be languishing near the bottom of the table.
The bookies have them as favourites, but it does seem a little premature.
For all the attacking talent City hold, the defence looks bare and could be a trouble spot for John van’t Schip.
Regardless, it’s an exciting new era not only for the club, but the A-League as a whole.
Connor Chapman (Newcastle Jets/AUS), James Brown (Newcastle Jets/AUS), Aaron Mooy (Western Sydney Wanderers/AUS), David Villa (Loan – New York City FC/USA), Damien Duff (Fulham/ENG), Jacob Melling (Adelaide United/AUS), Robert Koren (Hull City/ENG), Marc Marino (AIS/AUS), Erik Paartalu (Muangthong United/THA)
Jeremy Walker (Hume City/AUS), Orlando Engelaar (Released), Sam Mitchinson (Bayswater City/AUS), Patrick Gerhardt (Released), Harry Kewell (Retired), Aziz Behich (Bursaspor/TUR), David Vrankovic (Bonnyrigg White Eagles/AUS)
Goalkeepers: Andrew Redmayne, Tando Velaphi
Defenders: Rob Wielaert, Connor Chapman, Patrick Kisnorbo, Jason Hoffman
Midfielders: Jacob Melling, Massimo Murdocca, Aaron Mooy, Iain Ramsey, Nick Kalmar, Robert Koren, Paulo Retre, Erik Paartalu, Stefan Mauk, Ben Garuccio, Jonatan Germano
Attackers: David Villa, Damien Duff, David Williams, Mate Dugandzic, James Brown, Marc Marino
Question marks over why the defensive stocks have not been added to can only be answered once the season is underway, but at the minute it does look bare.
City’s midfield and attack are full to the brim with talent, and once David Villa leaves in January it looks as though Socceroo Josh Kennedy will come in to replace him.
John van’t Schip will likely set up his side in a 4-3-3 formation with Erik Paartalu anchoring the midfield with Robert Koren and Aaron Mooy playing in more advanced roles.
Damien Duff and David Williams/Mate Dugandzic will roam out wide with David Villa the obvious choice to be the focal point up front.
They’ll no doubt score goals, but it remains to be seen whether they can stem the flow at the back.
Fourth spot will be the pass mark for this season, and whatever happens in the finals would be a bonus.