Talking points preview: Newcastle Olympic vs City
The sun is once again dawning on a new season as the City boys prepare for their first competitive match of the 2022/23 campaign. In what has become customary, the newly titled ‘Australia Cup’ (previously FFA Cup) will serve as the curtain raiser for City fans, as the much-loved competition will see City travel interstate to play Northern New South Wales NPL outfit Newcastle Olympic.
The boys will undoubtedly be looking to send a strong message throughout the competition, as last season's tournament felt nothing less than disappointing as PK’s men fell short via penalties in the quarter-finals to an at-the-time struggling Wellington Phoenix.
Winning the Cup now also grants access to continental football, with the victors earning a playoff place for the AFC Cup, something the club would for sure like to secure sooner rather than later.
As we await Tuesday’s highly anticipated encounter, here are three things to look out for ahead of the match:
New season, new faces This offseason has seen some City mainstays from last season depart to pursue overseas opportunities.
As hard as it is to see fan favourites depart, it opens the door to welcome new players through the door. Whilst City is likely to continue to add to the squad, the club has already welcomed in one of the hottest young talents from last season in young right-back Callum Talbot and Dutch central midfielder Richard van der Venne from the Eredivisie.
With the departures of Carl Jenkinson, Connor Metcalfe and (possibly the biggest waste of a visa the club has ever seen) Manual Pucciarelli, both of the new acquisitions are likely to frequent the City side this season.
Both new signings were absent from the club's pre-season hitout against Dandenong Thunder last week, suggesting they are likely being saved for Tuesday night.
New signings are often one of the most exciting parts of any new season, and something to definitely look out for ahead of Tuesday as we hope to get our first glimpse of the newcomers.
Plaster up the cracks Those who were able to catch the friendly against Dandenong Thunder may hold concerns that our leakiness from last season has carried over into the new campaign.
City fielded a full-strength back four to start against the NPL outfit and yet still conceded two in the first half. This could very well be down to general preseason rustiness, which is of course common, yet was also enough to spark some slight concern over an ever-present deficiency in the squad from last season.
This, however, is a competitive fixture, so concentration levels and intent will naturally be at their highest.
PK and his defensive unit are surely aware of this and will be looking to put in a strong showing against Newcastle Olympic to reaffirm the quality the back four are able to possess when on form.
Last season saw Jordan Bos fly through the academy and become a valuable member of the squad towards the latter stages of the season.
Initially, it seemed Bos would be used as a backup to Scott Jamison at left-back, however the 19-year-old's quick feet and smooth dribbling have seemingly done enough to be given a chance higher up the pitch.
Bos started last week's friendly on the left wing and looked to be City’s most threatening player in the final third.
Bos’ performances are only leaving City onlookers wanting more, and with the departure of Stefan Colakovski to Perth opening up a place to be rotated through the wings, Bos will be intent on making it his own.
Whilst City possesses a front three of Socceroos that is unlikely to be tinkered with on the team sheet, cup games present a fantastic opportunity for young players and the Olyroo will likely feature heavily again.
Healthy competition for places in the squad is good, and another strong outing from Jordan Bos is sure to leave those ahead of him on their toes.
Melbourne City will look to kick off its season strongly on Tuesday night when they come up against Olympic. These games are usually one of the highlights of any NPL side's season and usually present themselves as a potential banana skin if not handled correctly.
Professionalism, however, is a mandate of any Patrick Kisnorbo side, and City should have more than enough to progress to the next round of the tournament, as well as send a message of intent to the rest of the competition.
Score prediction: 4-1 City