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Talking points preview: City vs Wanderers

After a less than impressive return to action in the FFA Cup midweek, our City boys are back in action on Sunday as we take on the Western Sydney Wanderers at AAMI Park as the second part of our double-header.

This game feels like a real make-or-break moment in City’s A-League Men’s season, with the struggling Wanderers a good chance to either play ourselves back into form, or a banana peel to further damage our slow-starting title defence.

Here are three talking points ahead of this one:

Source: Andrew Wiseman // @wisemansports

Wanderers’ woes

In our preview of our midweek game against Wellington, we spoke about our opponent’s poor form and start to the season and how we would need to capitalise on it.

Well, now we shift our focus to Western Sydney who have had a similarly poor start to their campaign. With two draws, two losses, an embarrassing loss to an NPL side in the Cup and only one win, the Wanderers have shown very little to start this season.

Manager Carl Robinson has been under pressure since halfway through last season, and there were strong rumours around Christmas that he was going to be shown the exit door.

Since then the league has changed fairly dramatically. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 issues the league faces, the Wanderers have not played a match since their 2-0 defeat to the Mariners all the way back on the 18th of December.

Everything appears to be against them at the moment, and they appear to be easy prey for City. Just like Wellington did midweek… How did that turn out again?

Source: Andrew Wiseman // @wisemansports

Plan B anyone?

I want to make one thing abundantly clear; I am not saying #PaddyOut. I am not calling for the sacking of our club legend, double-winning manager. But I am saying that I’m concerned.

Ever since the CFG takeover of the club, the message has always been about winning things “The City Way”, and playing a “beautiful” style of football. Paddy Kisnorbo clearly buys into this message, and last season it clearly paid dividends.

This season, however, has exposed the problem with this rigid, one-plan formula. This season teams have begun sitting back and parking the bus against City, and we have not been able to properly adapt.

It has been clear all season that we need to be able to change our tactics to adapt to games when we’re being held out by a side sitting back, but Kisnorbo has not been able to do so.

We’ll need to be prepared to make changes if we want any chance of retaining our title.

The Curious Case of Mathew Leckie

139 Bundesliga appearances, Asian Cup winner, Australian National Team captain, biggest signing of the A-League Men season. To say Leckie’s resume is stacked would be an understatement. So why then is the Mathew Leckie that we’ve seen so far at Melbourne City so disappointing?

Our new man on the wing has so far showed very little in his four appearances in the league. With zero goals and zero assists to his name and very little threat on display, City fans are rightfully questioning this big marquee signing.

Source: Andrew Wiseman // @wisemansports

So what is the issue exactly? Well, perhaps the problem is that Leckie is simply not suited to the style of football that City plays. Leckie made his career playing for lower teams in the German Bundesliga and for the Socceroos when they played against stronger international opposition. He is best suited to teams that play on the counter and attack fast and direct. Leckie’s strongest attributes have always been his speed and power in a direct attacking side. City plays a higher possession style that requires wingers to beat their opponents and cross the ball. This has shown so far not to work particularly well for Leckie.

So what is the solution? Do we adapt the game plan to better suit Leckie, or do we hope that with time Leckie is able to adapt to the system? Either way, him positively contributing will be one of the biggest make-or-break factors as the season continues.

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