30/11/2023

PHOTO: Melbourne City FC

Rado Vidosic will lead Melbourne City into his first finals campaign as an A-League Men’s manager on Friday night. 

This City side has a plethora of finals experience, embarking on their ninth straight finals campaign, and coming off the back of their third straight Premier’s Plate. 

Vidsoic himself is also an experienced finals campaigner, most recently leading Melbourne City’s women in last season’s finals. 

Despite a second-place finish, their season came to an abrupt end with back-to-back losses to Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory

“If you remember last season, we were 2-0 up against Sydney FC women’s team and they scored to make it 2-2, and it went to extra time and we had a couple of players sent off,” Vidosic told media on Wednesday. 

City’s women would lose that clash 4-2. 

As for what Vidosic learnt from the encounter: “You really need to be able to manage the game, control the game,” he said. 

“We (City’s men) are very good in controlling the game when we keep possession, we like to keep possession in the opponent’s half, not only so we can keep possession but so we can create some scoring opportunities and score goals.

“I think that would be the main thing that I’ve learned from that game.”

Among other roles, Vidosic also spent time as an assistant to Ange Postecoglou during the Brisbane Roar’s glory days. The 2010/11 grand final in particular taught him the importance of never saying never. 

“I had several ‘Orange Sundays’ back in the day in Brisbane, 52,000 people, 2-0 down, three minutes to go in extra time, and then to win it in the penalty shootout,” he recalled. 

“Anything is possible, you can never write off the home team, especially in those situations.”

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City will travel to Allianz Stadium for the first leg of their clash against Sydney FC, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST on Friday, but will be afforded that pivotal home ground advantage for the game’s second leg next Friday. 

Sydney FC has had a rollercoaster season, but finished with a strong run of form and picked up a galvanising elimination final victory over crosstown rivals Western Sydney

Despite their fifth-place finish, Vidosic was full of praise for the Sky Blues, and won’t be taking them lightly. 

“Sydney FC had a fantastic second-half against Western Sydney Wanderers. They won the right to play the semi-final in that second-half, they were excellent,” he said.

Vidosic’s men, fresh off a two-week break, are set to be bolstered by the returns of key attackers Matt Leckie and Valon Berisha. 

“We did a bit of extra work with (Leckie). At this moment, we just finished the training session, and Leckie is looking good to start. We’ve got one more session tomorrow so fingers crossed everything goes to plan and he can help us from the beginning,” Vidosic said. 

“(Berisha) had a problem with his hip, this is a long-term issue that he’s got. He soldiered on throughout the season with that, and we decided to look after him… He’s putting his hand up to start on Friday.”

Despite their dominance, especially in recent seasons, championship success has eluded City, with just one to show from three consecutive grand final appearances and nine consecutive finals appearances. 

While Vidosic refused to buy into the external pressure for championship success, he spoke of his side’s need to make the most of the opportunities they’re presented to win silverware. 

“There is absolutely no pressure from anyone. I think what we try to achieve, we have achieved already. We won the premiership, we qualified for the (AFC) Champions League,” he said. 

“We broke a lot of records. We played a lot of young players, we’re on the verge of selling a couple of our young players to overseas clubs.

“It would be great to be in the grand final, and we’re gonna try our best. You need to be ready for it… you need to be like Real Madrid, when you get into that (final), you win it. 

“I’m not sure that we are there right yet. But we’re gonna try. Hopefully we can become the Real Madrid of the (UEFA) Champions League in (A-League) grand finals.”

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