To say that was frustrating would be an understatement. Whether it be the lack of command in the midfield or the Green and Black bus being parked for a good proportion of the game, last night’s clash with the Western United was a kick in the guts to begin our title defence.
To quote Aaron Chen from Sydney FC vs Liverpool in 2017, it certainly was a “game of possession”, with City looking rather toothless while retaining the ball at times, facing a wall of United players.
With no doubt in my mind, we have lost three points here. But is it panic stations yet? By no means.
Here are three things we learned in our Round 3 clash of the 2021-22 season against Western United:
Outside of Nabbout is on this season
Every game is full of little moments; a one-percenter that can flip a contest on its head. Sometimes, these little moments include a particular technique, or way of handling an opposition player. Andrew Nabbout has shown his class time and time again, and we will be surely expecting one or two more worldies after this past week.
Showing that he still has plenty to offer, Nabbout took on his man consistently last night, turning his defender inside and out, causing havoc with the ball.
The only thing that he lacked was the cutting edge of that final touch, otherwise the game could have had a much more positive outcome.
While it would have been nice to see that 55th-minute shot from the edge of the box hit the back of the net, it is still early days this season. With Maclaren, Leckie and Nabbout still not clicking into gear, it is only a matter of time. Until then, we can surely expect some more fire from the strong-running Nabbout.
We are a shadow of our championship City
Dramatic? Maybe a bit… but it must be said.
Despite our clear statistical supremacy - with 21 shots to 6 - we lacked a clear dominant playstyle throughout the match, and there was no evidence of a plan B being put into place despite Western United thwarting our attack time and time again.
With a lack of dominance in the midfield and an apparent superhuman in Leo Lecroix watching over Maclaren, there was no obvious way forward, leading to aimless play; reminiscent of a City of yesteryear.
With limited creativity onboard, we struggled to carve out many chances until the final minutes when we were throwing the kitchen sink at it. But, by then, it was already too late.
With one win, one draw and one loss to begin our season, it is worrying. Although, we must remember that we had lost the first four out of six last season; it may just be a case of clicking into gear.
Glover Needs an Injection of Confidence
Our massive goalkeeper, the Olympian, the man who nearly single-handedly won us our first Championship back in the 2019-20 season with that eight-save performance; yet, he seems to be in a slump.
Forget last week against Adelaide and let's look solely at last night. Distribution-wise, there were multiple nervy moments: Clearing the ball into an oncoming United player which luckily went out for a goal kick, passing across goal for it to be intercepted and even just kicking it out of play needlessly. While this can just be put down as ‘room for improvement’, we all know Glover is better than this. He just needs some confidence.
Unfortunately, it is just not happening for him. With Western United only accumulating one shot on target, and that shot resulting in a goal, it will weigh heavily for our number 1. However, all it takes is that one massive save, one brilliant ball forward. We need to put our trust in Glover. He will repay us.
To finish our hot run of back-to-back games, we turn now to a midweek clash against Perth Glory on Wednesday. Safe to say, more work needs to be done. With Maclaren only scoring one goal so far (unheard of!), he will be more than willing to prove himself against a Perth side who also lost against Western United 1-0.
While there is cause for concern, it is not panic stations yet. This is a long season; we must trust the process and understand that it will take time to click. Just not too long… hopefully.