Melbourne City will be hoping to rectify last season's grand final loss in season 2022/23. Photo: Melbourne City Design: Will Cuckson

It was an almost perfect season for Melbourne City in 2021/22, falling at the final hurdle in a Grand Final defeat to Western United. However, the club has strengthened the playing squad over the off-season and will now be hoping to return to finals action this season.

Last season:

First (14 wins, seven draws five losses)

Despite clinching the plate, and playing off in the Grand Final against new rivals Western United, the boys from Melbourne will have felt a sense of underachievement from the season.

The reasoning for this would mainly be based around the quality of players the squad had at its disposal during the season. City had retained the bulk of players from the 2020/21 premiership campaign, and also added classy Australian international Mathew Leckie.

Leckie was a signing which had the fanbase and head coach Patrick Kisnorbo alike very optimistic about back-to-back championships ahead of the upcoming campaign.

On the back of this, many expected City to win the championship, with the club coming in as favourites. It would ultimately start well, winning a total of 13 points from the opening eight fixtures, including three victories.

In addition to this, one of the major positives to come away from City’s season was their ability to score bulk goals, having the best attack in the A-League once again.

Melbourne scored 55 goals in total for the season, and it was really no surprise. Players in the side such as Leckie, Jamie Maclaren and Marco Tilio all stepped up and earned Australian selection.

Biggest in:

Despite the biggest acquisition coming in on a loan transfer, City supporters will certainly be excited about the arrival of Valon Berisha into the midfield.

The 29-year-old midfielder will offer reassurance to the Melbourne City midfield makeup, and offer a sense of attacking flair.

It’s Berisha’s ability to get into dangerous attacking areas, and get involved in link-up play which makes him such a prominent threat against opposition sides.

Since joining Ligue 1 side Reims in the French national league at the beginning of the 2021 season, Berisha has added one goal and four assists from limited playing time,acting as more of a box-to-box midfielder.

Both Reims and City fans will be hoping to see Valon Berisha in amongst the attacking statistics more this season, and with Florin Berenguer also at head coach Patrick Kisnorbo’s disposal, expect City to score heavily again.

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Biggest out:

In what is somewhat of a disappointment for City fans, the continued development of Connor Metcalfe was noticed abroad, with the 22-year-old central midfielder earning a move overseas. Metcalfe has joined German side St. Pauli, and will be sorely missed in the upcoming campaign.

Having transitioned from the youth setup to the senior side in 2017, Metcalfe hasn’t missed a beat since joining, and has been one of the main clogs in attack for the boys from Melbourne.

Metcalfe netted eight goals and provided six assists in his time with City, and despite the signing of Berisha, his A-League Men experience will be a notable absence this season.

What to expect:

Something fans of Melbourne City can be excited about is the players the club has retained from not only the grand final winning side of season 2020/21, but much of last season’s plate winning outfit. This is something that is set to hold the side in good stead for the upcoming season.

Despite some exciting youngsters such as Connor Metcalfe and Stefan Colakovski departing the club for other opportunities, much of the City attack is still very potent.

Maclaren is one of the best number nines in the league, and is well supported by a brilliant mix of experience and young attacking flair all around the box.

Fans can expect finals football once again, and despite a Round of 16 departure from the Australia Cup, many have sights on silverware come the end of the season. For Melbourne City, it remains as something that is certainly not out of reach.

Starting XI:

The Inner Sanctum’s predicted line-up for Melbourne City’s in round one.
(Design: Will Cuckson)

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