02/03/2024

Melbourne City coach Patrick Kisnorbo celebrates winning the A-League championship. PHOTO: Melbourne City-Twitter

City capped off their superb season by winning both the Premier's Plate and A-League championship. We review a landmark year for the club.

Melbourne City finishing position: 1st (49pts, 15 wins, four draws, seven losses)

The highs

Winning the league double for the first time in its history would no doubt be a high for Melbourne City. However, there were several highs through the A-League season that many City fans were overjoyed at.

Melbourne Derbies are something that generally Victory has dominated. This year, however, City took the Victory apart, winning 6-0 over their fiercest rivals in the first matchup.

As if that wasn’t enough, City did not stop there, instead going one better just a month later, blitzing Victory to the tune of 7-0. Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren found the back of the net five times in the rout.

In the three matches against Victory, Melbourne City won two of the three games while drawing their last meeting, overall scoring 14 goals and conceding just once.

Patrick Kisnorbo’s side had a remarkable 62 shots on goal to Victory’s 23 in the three games as they dominated their cross-town rivals.

However, winning the premiers plate with three games to spare was a special achievement for this Melbourne City team.

To then go on and win the A-League championship and to do it in such dominating fashion was incredible. Add in that City was missing Jamie Maclaren, Curtis Good, and Connor Metcalfe, it makes City’s accomplishment all the more impressive.

The lows

A side that wins the domestic double would not be expected to have many lows during a season. However, as many teams will tell you, nobody can be on top of their game all year.

For City, they went through two separate runs of poor form. A three-game losing streak in which City lost to Perth, Central Coast, and Newcastle saw the first signs of trouble for Patrick Kisnorbo and his side.

After surviving that form slump, City’s next hit came at the worst possible time, a three-week block heading into the finals.

Losing 3-0 to Brisbane Roar after City claimed the Premier’s Plate, a draw with Victory after a late equalizer and then in the last game of the season, a 2-1 loss to Newcastle.

City were not heading into the finals series in the best form which was a cause for concern for the club.

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MVP

Jamie Maclaren won his second consecutive Golden Boot award this season with 25 league goals from his 24 games with 52 shots on target. Finishing 11 goals clear of Matt Derbyshire in second.

City’s number nine did not just score but also assisted five times while providing 22 key passes for his teammates. What is incredible about Maclaren’s season is that he averaged a goal every 82 minutes while having a conversation rate of 27 per cent.

Melbourne City’s top striker will be around to terrorize teams for the next three years after putting pen to paper on a new deal just weeks ago.

Breakout player

Connor Metcalfe has gone from strength to strength in the heart of Melbourne City’s midfield this year. The 22-year-old saw his exploits domestically be rewarded with a Socceroos debut in Kuwait for the World Cup Qualifiers.

Metcalfe played 24 games and started all 24 for the eventual champions. Often playing in a midfield with Aiden O’Neill, Metcalfe was a driving force for City.

The Socceroo had an incredible pass success rate of 85 per cent for the year while scoring five goals and providing three assists. The City midfielder also produced 25 key passes for his teammates. Out of Metcalfe’s 1,014 passes he played for the year, only 166 were unsuccessful.

Metcalfe made 40 interceptions, seven blocks, and a huge 18 clearances as he showed he can get it done at both ends for his side. Something that goes unnoticed is that Metcalfe won over 66 per cent of his aerial duels.

Being in the centre of midfield, he only committed 25 fouls for the entire season which averages to just one foul a game. He is coming into his own as a professional footballer.

Final word

Melbourne City left no doubt that it was the top dog in the A-League this season. City was the highest-scoring side and ranked in the top four defensively.

With the likes of Jamie Maclaren, Andrew Nabbout, and new signing Mathew Leckie, City will be getting even stronger next season.

Fresh off winning both the premiers plate and the league championship, Melbourne City is poised to be at the top of Australian football for years to come.

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