18/04/2024

Melbourne City for the second time in three seasons fall short of championship glory. (Image: Melbourne City FC)

It was a near perfect season for Melbourne City. Making their third consecutive grand final, the side would ultimately fall short.

Despite a largely positive season in which they reached the grand final, Melbourne City internally would be feeling they underachieved.

Having retained the bulk of their championship squad from last season in addition to bringing in Socceroo Mathew Leckie, City were once again a formidable opponent.

The home and away season ended positive enough, taking out the premiers plate in the final game of the season having been in a three horse race with local rivals Melbourne Victory and Western United. However, their season ultimately ended in heartbreak.

City will no doubt be heading into the offseason unfulfilled despite all the positives which came out of the 2021-22 campaign.

Highs

Though they unsuccessfully defended their championship crown, City can take some consolation out of the season having successfully retain the Premiers Plate. Finishing the season as the ladder leaders, Melbourne finished on the same points tally as last season, edging out the Victory and United to the plate.

In addition to finishing the regular season on a high, the club once again finished the campaign with the best attack in the league. Scoring 55 goals for the season, no side found the net more than City with the attack proving to be a dangerous force this season.

Led by Socceroo squad members Andrew Nabbout, Jamie Maclaren, Marco Tilio and Mathew Leckie. All of whom caused headaches for opposition defences. Meanwhile French midfield maestro Florin Berenguer was sensational.

The input of Leckie in his first season at the club was a major positive for the club, arriving on a free transfer. Struggling to find his feet in the early stages of the season, he’d go on to have an impressive campaign, finishing the season as one of the side’s most important players.

Another highlight of the campaign was their second-leg of the semi-final against Adelaide United, coming back from a goal down to win in extra time and progress through to the grand final.

A goal down and needing a spark, Tilio would come on and score the equaliser before Maclaren found the net early into extra time to reverse the deficit.

Digging deep and finding a way to get a result had been a trademark of City in recent seasons, and though the following week brought disappointment, Kisnorbo would be pleased how his side fought to get to a grand final.

Another notable highlight was the fact City were the only side which took all three points in more than 50 per cent of their fixtures this season.

Lows

Though coming into the finals as the best side of the competition, a cloud hung over City with the side not defeating their Melbourne based-rivals all season.

Having garnered the perception of being flat track bullies in the regular season, having failed to defeat the Victory, Western United and Adelaide United all season, it would come back to haunt them, eventually losing to United in the finals.

Having had a good track record in the past, having had the wood over both Western United and the Melbourne Victory in previous seasons, City couldn’t scalp a win against them in the 2021-22 season.

Having recorded draws against the Victory in their first two meetings, their third meeting was one of their worst performances of the season, losing 3-0.

Against United, City lost 1-0 on two occasions and drew 2-2 in their final meeting which they nearly lost too, having been two goals down at one point. In their fourth and final meeting, it’d be more of the same losing 2-0 to United in the grand final.

Though they’d edge past the Reds in the semi-final, they didn’t defeat Adelaide in their three meetings during the regular season.

In a season which was mostly positive, their performances against the better sides of the competition was underwhelming.

Melbourne City will be disappointed with their form against rivals this season. (Image: Melbourne City FC)

2021/22 A-League Men Season Review: Newcastle Jets – Box Office Jets fail to live up to ratings

2021/22 A-League Men Season Review: Western Sydney Wanderers

Analysis: How the Socceroos should approach their match against UAE

MVP

Putting in another stellar campaign, Jamie Maclaren was once again the best striker in the competition.

Putting in another consistent season, Maclaren missed just the two games and finished the season with 15 goals, contributing to 17 goals in total. Though not his most productive season in the league, there wasn’t a player who created more goals than Maclaren.

Having garnered a reputation for being a fox in the box, Maclaren’s ability to be clinical in front of goal and make chances out of nothing inside the penalty around was once again on full display.

For the third time running he’d finish the season as both the A-League Men’s and Melbourne City’s leading goal scorer. Having taken out the award for the fourth time in his career, it’s a feat which no other player has achieved in A-League Men’s history.

He’d also earn a spot in the A-League Men’s 2021-22 team of the season for the third season running.

Jamie Maclaren was prolific again in the 2021/22 season. (Image: Melbourne City FC)

Breakout Player

Having shown encouraging signs last year with City, midfielder Marco Tilio came on leaps and bounds this season, emerging as one of the side’s most exciting players.

Having been an exciting prospect with a lot of upside in his first two seasons at senior level, this season was the campaign which Tilio got it all together. He’d show his versatility, looking like he belonged at the level, having been influential whether deployed on the pitch.

Having been utilised under Kisnorbo this season as either a winger or attacking midfielder, Tilio has dazzled with his passing and dribbling ability. He’d also impress with his ability to shrug off defenders, despite being just 20-years-old and still developing, he was never phased by the physicality of the league.

Making 22 appearances and registering 11 goal contributions, Tilio would be rewarded for effort, being called up to the national team set up.

Marco Tilio had an impressive campaign. (Image: Melbourne City FC)

Final Word

It was a near perfect season for Melbourne City, and though they head into the offseason adding another piece of silverware (Premiers Plate) to the trophy cabinet, they’d feel they underachieved not taking out back-to-back championships.

Having lost their second grand final in three seasons, the Club will be thinking of what could have been, having missed a major opportunity to create a dynasty and be renowned as one of the most dominant forces of the A-Leagues era.

Though youngsters Colakovski and Tilio has been linked with a move away from the club this offseason, the club once again looked set to retain the bulk of the their squad.

Having come up short this season, they’ll no doubt being out to reclaim their crown next season. Though if they are to get there, they’ll need to address issues which made them vulnerable against the top sides of the competition.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

About Author

Leave a Reply