It may still be early days in the 2020/21 campaign but today’s 1-0 loss to Newcastle Jets will only serve to validate the more-cynical opinions amongst the City faithful, with Patrick Kisnorbo now under severe pressure only six games into his tenure.
A 40th-minute goal to Valentino Yuel was enough for the Jets to down a largely toothless City side who were unable to capitalise on some massive chances presented to the likes of Maclaren and Luna.
With the side now facing serious questions from all sides about their recent performances, here’s what we learned from this afternoon’s disappointing result:
Equal-worst start to a season as Melbourne City
(Credit to @Jessee0923 for this one)
In our seven seasons as Melbourne City, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a poorer opening six fixtures than we’ve experienced in 2020/21. Points-wise, only our 2014/15 campaign compares, when our record read 1-3-2 for six points overall. Even then, we’d score 10 goals to that point, comparatively dwarfing the six we’ve netted in the current campaign, our lowest tally this far in.
It’s ironic that the man who captained that 2014/15 side that went on to make the Semi-Finals is now at the helm as our manager, but we’re not sure how long goodwill is going to spare Kisnorbo from an unprecedented mid-season sacking, with pressure mounting from fans online.
City continue to be dominated at set-pieces
Whilst it’d be a bit of a stretch to claim that we conceded ‘yet another set-piece goal’, we’d argue that our failure to effectively clear the initial ball in from the corner eventuated into the crossing opportunity for Hoffman that lead to Yuel’s matchwinner.
Even beyond that, Newcastle absolutely dominated the City defence in the air, winning countless first headers from set-pieces so that they were able to either directly target the City net or flick the ball on for a secondary shooting opportunity.
At this rate, the team look like conceding cheap set-piece goals by the bucketload in a season where we can ill-afford to go behind as it is, with goals proving difficult to come by at the other end. Speaking of...
We need to find other routes to goal
Jamie Maclaren simply isn’t in the same vein of form as he was in early 2019/20 and he can’t be expected to carry the team’s offensive output on his shoulders.
To clarify, Maclaren hasn’t been markedly poor by any stretch of the imagination thus far, he’s just not scoring with the same ridiculously lethal instinct as he was last campaign, and is on-par this season with his expected goals (3.54), according to Infogol.
Naoki Tsubaki is still finding his feet in the league, but before we give him a pass for that, it’s got to be mentioned that he’s now gone over 1000 competitive minutes without a goal contribution. With Colakovski looking productive and Tilio desperate for first-team minutes, the Japanese winger won’t have too much ‘settling in’ time left at his disposal.
Craig Noone, on the other hand, represents a ‘senior’ figure (of sorts) within the City frontline and needs to be picking up some of the goalscoring slack. In the absence of the more directly goal-threatening Andrew Nabbout, City doesn’t appear to have a dangerous second-forward to distract defensive attentions away from Maclaren, making the few opportunities that the striker has been getting even more difficult to convert. The Englishman has taken just six shots in as many matches so far (fewer than Maclaren, Luna and Metcalfe) with just two of those on-target, and will need to improve that aspect of his game or risk being the first dropped upon the return of Nabbout from injury.