Talking points preview: Newcastle vs City
In a game originally scheduled for the start of the New Year squeezed in after a cancelled Sunday night game against Perth, Melbourne City will be looking to be as flexible as the league fixtures as they face 9th-placed Newcastle on Tuesday evening at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Here are three things we can expect to see:
Distractions a factor, but no excuse
It has been anything but smooth sailing for Melbourne City in recent times. With multiple game cancellations, fixture disruptions, international breaks, transfer windows and COVID recoveries, finding some consistency and building a winning culture has been made far more challenging for Kisnorbo and his men. Whilst no one would look solely at these as excuses for the underwhelming run of results (none more so than the club themselves), it has no doubt had an impact.
In addition, recent transfer speculation for our manager Patrick Kisnorbo in scouted managerial roles in the EFL has been gaining traction, no doubt further unsettling what had been, up until this season, a strategic ‘settling’ as identified as a key indicator of league success in Australia.
Throw into this four international call-ups for some key players in the squad and it is easy to see how difficult it has been recently to feel like any traction is being gained week to week.
As the dust begins to settle in a busy February of fixtures, how will we get back to winning ways and ensure we continue to build on the promise and progress of last season?
No doubt the return of the Socceroos will bolster the squad as we look to begin our first of six games in 19 days. Uncertain still is the inclusion of Curtis Good as he continues to recover from the implications of COVID 19 and the return of Nabbout after he was left out in the last round due to injury.
Kisnorbo will no doubt look to utilise the depth of his squad in the coming weeks, beginning with the team selection on Tuesday night. Given City are to face Western Sydney Wanderers only three days later, can we expect to see some unfamiliar selections against the Jets? Moreover, might we get an early taste of our new attacking midfield/wide import, Tsubasa Endoh?
With City having dropped into 6th position on the ladder (take this with a pinch of salt) and only three wins from nine games, it is essential we begin these fixtures with the attitude ‘as we mean to go on’ and give ourselves a platform to build on in the second half of the season.
In recent years, McDonald Jones stadium has been a tough place to visit. Even when disparities between the two teams have been greater, Newcastle has seemingly thrived on the challenge of hosting Melbourne City and gained plenty of points in doing so. If recent form is anything to go by, both teams will be heading into this game with confidence to take all three points.
In a Talking City article posted recently, contributor Declan Archer pertinently asked: where are our champions? Quite rightly, it feels as if the second third of the season begins for us on Tuesday night and if we can find some winning form away from home over the next week it will certainly bolster confidence when we return to AAMI Park to host Adelaide, Newcastle and Central Coast Mariners in the space of the week that follows. This contributor hopes that the champions will be rediscovered over this period and we can buck the trend of the season thus far – if not, tougher questions may then be required to be asked.
Newcastle Jets 1 – Melbourne City 2