Rhianna Pollicina. (Image: @MelbourneCity - Twitter)

Whether it is Rado or Dario Vidosic at the helm, the expectations at Melbourne City remain high.

The A-League Women season got off to the best possible start for last season’s second-placed team. A 4-1 win over Wellington Phoenix was completed in style, and City sent a reminder to the season that they are a force to be reckoned with.

Following a bye week, City will restart their season against the Brisbane Roar, but with one major change. Head coach Rado Vidosic has taken temporary charge of the men’s team. In his place steps assistant, his son, and former Socceroo Dario.

Most A-League Women’s teams have endured a shorter pre-season than in previous years. City has retained much of their squad while adding some more depth and firepower.

In the first weeks of his tenure as interim manager, Dario Vidosic said that he was unlikely to change much in a settled environment.

“We want to dominate the game with and without the ball,” Vidosic said.

“Me as a coach, I want the ball. When we don’t have the ball I suffer. I think the team does too.

“We don’t want to pass it around the back for the sake of passing it around the back.

“We want to have dangerous possession, where we’re in the front third constantly applying pressure, and when we don’t have it, we’re hunting for the ball to win it back.”

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Vidosic shares a common football philosophy with his father. He was in charge of City’s opening game where they demonstrated tactical flexibility against the Phoenix.

The side was expected to line up with a back three, but quickly switched to four in defence. It helped nullify Wellington’s strengths in wide areas, while allowing their own attack to flourish.

“That’s the beauty of our squad and the quality of the players that we have, that we are flexible,” Vidosic said.  

“A lot that was here last season was in that back five or back three. We’ve got that flexibility now where we can analyse the opponents and see what is best suited.

“We can go with a four, with can go with a three, and maybe we can even change the midfield or the front line.

“That’s a credit to the players that we can apply the same principles and our football philosophy.”

“All of Australia should be very excited about her”

Vidosic has experienced players in the squad and may welcome back captain Emma Checker to defence.

But he has also inherited some of the best young players in the country. Five players in the squad are current youth internationals. Daniela Galic in particular has impressed the staff and her new teammates.

“She’s starting tomorrow,” Vidosic enthusiastically said.

“She’s starting, she’s playing.

“I’m very excited about her. She’s an excellent player at 16 years old.

“It doesn’t matter how old or young you are if you perform and play well, and she certainly has.

“Tomorrow she gets another chance…all of Australia should be very excited about her.”

Playmaker Rhianna Pollicina agreed and highlighted Galic’s touch on the ball and the experience beyond her age.

“You would have noticed in round one coming off the Youth World Cup [Under-20 Women’s World Cup], she brought that experience,” Pollicina said.

“She’s a quality player that’s going to be the future of our game…we link up well together.”

Galic is one of City’s new players but is joined by Bryleeh Henry. The Young Matilda scored her first goal for the club in round one, and Pollicina is excited by her potential.

“She’s settled in really well,” she said of Henry.

“She’s got quite a few friendships already in the group, so that was a bonus for her.

“She will be looking to bounce off our passes and score a few goals herself.

“She’s a massive bonus to our team, and she’s doing really well here.”

One step further

City faces a Brisbane Roar side brimming with attacking talent. Vidosic’s side is aware of the threats that Sharn Frier, Shea Connors, and Larissa Crummer can produce. They lost to the Roar last season in a game that cost them a chance at the premiership, and this season is about rectifying a trophyless campaign.

“Our attacking threats will be there,” Pollicina said.

“But we focus on our defensive side first and we go from there.

“We know what we need to do, and our game plan will be to just play the way we want to play, set the pace from the start and hopefully pick up the three points.”

Ending last season empty-handed is driving the new manager, as it does the players. Pollicina said the semifinal loss still hurts.

“We want to go one step further, last year’s final absolutely kills us.

“We want to win the premiership this year, we want to get that champions trophy this year.

“The players that we’ve brought in are more than happy to work for that. That’s the environment we want to create here.”

The manager agrees but knows firsthand how quickly fortunes can shift in this sport.

“I think in football it needs to be a day-to-day basis,” said Vidosic.

“Take myself, an assistant. Then pretty much overnight, I become [the] interim head coach.

“I’ve learned through my career and I’m learning as a coach on the other side of the white line that things can change very quickly.”

This may be his first senior role, but Vidosic is looking to grasp this opportunity and become the best coach he can be.

“I know I’ll make mistakes like any player. That’s when you learn the most when mistakes are made, and when there are tougher games,” Vidosic said.

“Especially with the quality of the coaches in the league, very experienced. There’s always going to be something to learn every match day, every training day.

“My mentality is we want to win. The trophies are there to be won, that’s why we play. My intentions are set, we’re going title hunting.”

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