Preview: 'The Last Football Game'
It’s quite a sombre feeling to be writing a preview for a game that possibly – probably – won’t be going ahead, but alas, here it is anyway.
City fans were treated to an attacking masterclass in our 4-2 win over Central Coast on Friday night, but the lads will have to remain switched on and recover quickly in order to take the maximum points in tonight’s clash against the Newcastle Jets.
Here are three of the biggest talking points heading into tonight’s game:
They’ve been one of the ‘easybeat’ teams for a few years now, with exception of that season where they were robbed of the A-League title thanks to a VAR stuff-up, and even this season their form has been pretty horrible, but things are starting to turn around for the Jets under new manager Carl Robinson.
Their recent 1-0 loss to Brisbane – a decent outfit themselves – ended a six-game unbeaten streak in which they notably knocked off Perth Glory and Adelaide United.
The return of ‘Irish Messi’ Wes Hoolihan has been massive for the jets, whilst the signing of ex-Premier League man Joe Ledley has also bolstered the team’s morale and performances.
In that sense, Newcastle definitely represents quite the banana-peel fixture for City, who shouldn’t be taking the three points for granted.
The FFA’s decision to fast-track the 2019/20 season means that, just three days after beating the Mariners, City will have to front up again to face off against the Jets later tonight.
Fortunately, Newcastle face a similar three-day turnaround given they played Brisbane on Friday night after our earlier kick-off game, which neutralises any advantage that either team might have had.
Whilst playing games just a few days apart is common ground in overseas leagues, it’s something that our domestic players mightn’t be as accustomed to, with the short turnaround likely to leave some in the squad a little fatigued.
This opens the door for the possibility of rotational changes to the starting lineup for some of our older players, with Markel Susaeta (32), Craig Noone (32), Rostyn Griffiths (32) and Scott Jamieson (31) all over 30 years of age.
(It’s at this point that I realise we’re actually doing a decent job of list-management if they’re our oldest players. Would hate to be a physio at Western United…)
The Last Football Game…
Let’s be honest, this is the ONLY thing that people are talking about coming into this game.
Writing this preview at 11:30am, I’m far from 100% sure that the game will go ahead at 7:30pm tonight. The Perth Glory vs Western United game is confirmed to have been called off, and I’m without doubt that it’ll be a waiting game for fans, staff and players as we wait to hear whether our clash against the Jets will share a similar fate.
As difficult as it is not to discuss the football-shaped void that’s about to appear in our lives, I’ll instead focus on the uncertain situation that lies ahead for the game’s decision-makers.
Will the season be discontinued to the effect of being voided, with no Premier, Champion or ACL spots awarded? Or will the season be discontinued but assumed as being prematurely completed, with Sydney FC being awarded the Premiership – and deservedly so – with Melbourne City deemed to be deserving of qualification to the Asian Champions League, given our current occupation of second-place?
This may seem a little unfair on Wellington, who hold two games in-hand (in which they would need to secure four points to overtake us for second-place), but they’re ineligible to play in the Asian Champion’s League given they represent the Oceania Football Confederation anyway.
It’s all a bit of an anxious mess really. The outbreak of COVID-19 is a situation like nothing we’ve ever experienced before… nobody knows what’s going to happen and nobody knows how to deal with it.