'Feeling Asia's Toll': Three things we learned - Jeonnam vs City
Melbourne City fans were subjected to an emotional rollercoaster last night when they witnessed the team play out a 1-1 draw against Jeonnam Dragons.
The visibly exhausted City boys were second best to their Korean counterparts for much of the encounter, but emotions flowed when they thought they'd found the winner in the 89th minute off the golden boot of Jamie Maclaren.
Their hard work and sacrifice would all be cruelly undone just minutes later when yet another Tom Glover aerial error afforded a cheap chance to Jeonnam's Nika Kacharava to chip the stranded City keeper.
As the final whistle blew, players from both sides slumped to the ground having given their all to no avail, with fans left to rue what might have been.
Here's what we learned from the emotional night:
The final straw for Glover
The criticism is no longer unfounded. The calls for his relegation to the bench are no longer premature. Following another calamitous, game-changing error, Tom Glover’s time must now be up.
There’s no hiding it: if not for the City keeper's consistent, point-costing errors this season, there would be no A-League title race. Similarly, if not for his mind-boggling decision to meekly punch instead of claiming Jeonnam’s late cross last night, City would more or less have one foot in the ACL knockout stages.
There had been sections of the City supporter base that had justifiably defended the 24-year-old throughout his nightmare 2021/22 campaign, asking for patience whilst he got himself out of what appeared to be just a dip in form, but those adamant defenders seem to have departed his side.
Glover has lost the fans, but, as of last night, he’s perhaps lost his teammates too.
Empathise with how the City boys must have felt last night when, after a gruelling 90 minutes where they gave their absolute all in exchange for what loomed as a massive three points, the emotional high of their achievement was cruelly snatched away due to another bewildering error from their teammate between the sticks.
Glover’s consistent errors, his constant hesitancy in claiming aerial balls or coming out of his area, must have surely diminished the trust of his teammates, and there’s been no hiding the absolute sprays that he’s received from his more senior counterparts for his lack of assertive communication.
Ultimately, without the fans, his teammates and (likely) an equally outraged coach on his side, we’re not sure who Glover has left in his corner.
Feeling Asia's toll
Of course, the outrage at the result is ironic given that the single point doesn't change the fact that we'll need to beat BG Pathum United on Wednesday night in order to finish top of the group.
Fans' emotions are justified, however, given the fact that three points would have been a worthy exchange for the increased fatigue that our players have now accumulated without that reward.
A condensed Group Stage campaign was always going to be difficult to navigate, but a host of injuries to key players, suspensions for yellow card accumulation and further COVID-enforced unavailabilities has stretched our squad like never before.
It's showing too, with overworked individuals like Carl Jenkinson and Andrew Nabbout looking totally exhausted less than two-thirds of the way through the contest.
The boys are struggling, and it's not going to get any easier with BG Pathum coming up.
The good news is that reinforcements could be on the way; Jenkinson could be in line for a deserved reprieve with Scott Galloway surely not far off a return from COVID, Marco Tilio will return from suspension and Mathew Leckie will be a step closer to full fitness in three days time.
Bos continues to be a revelation
He's been praised by just about every member of the writing team by now, but Jordan Bos' importance to this Melbourne City squad can't be understated, and his performance last night will be the positive note that this post-match ends on.
With so many of his teammates looking out on their feet, it was Bos' youthful tenacity and determination to win the ball and create for his side that nearly proved the difference, with those exact qualities helping him to set up Jamie Maclaren for what should have been the winner.
Whilst his starting minutes will, for now, be limited by the misfortune of having his captain as his positional counterpart, Bos has demonstrated his present quality and future potential, and City's long-term left-back prospects appear to be in safe hands.