Melbourne City clinched its first-ever premiership after defeating the Central Coast Mariners in front of their home crowd on Saturday night.
22nd of May 2021. That is the date that Melbourne City fans will remember for a long time. Thanks to a 1-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners courtesy of a Craig Noone goal in the 59th minute, Melbourne City secured their first-ever premiership in the club’s 12-year history.
It did come about after some nerve-jangling moments as in second-half added-time, the Mariners were awarded a penalty when referee Shaun Evans pointed to the spot after Aiden O’Neill brought down Mariners keeper Mark Birighitti. However after a review by VAR, Evans overturned his original decision and in doing so, gave City their first-ever premiership.
It represents a long and arduous wait for the team out of Bundoora, Victoria to claim its second trophy in the club’s history. Previously, City’s best finish was second in the 2019/20 season in which they made it to the Grand Final, only to lose to Sydney FC.
What the win over the Mariners now means for the club, is that should they make it to the Grand Final, they are guaranteed to host it.
The City Football Group has played its part
The club entered the A-League in the 2010-11 season known as the Melbourne Heart. For four years the club battled with its highest finish being sixth in the 2011-12 season. Before the start of the 2014-15 season, the club was bought by City Football Group, the company that owns and operates Premier League Giant Manchester City and The Heart become Melbourne City.
The resources, money, and players that have helped the club get where it is today and it is that professionalism that has been the driving force behind its success this season. Perhaps the best thing about the club in the last couple of seasons is the club’s ability to retain its players from previous seasons. Gone are the days where gifted players like Aaron Mooy, Harry Novillo, and Daniel Arzani left for greener pastures.
The club has retained the services of quality players in Florin Berenguer, Jamie Maclaren, and Craig Noone without compromising the young players in its squad. Players like Nathan Atkinson, Connor Metcalfe, Tom Glover, and Aiden O’Neill have been the driving force behind City’s dominance this season.
Much was expected of the club when the club was taken over and now had the backing of a global company like City Football Group. City has made the A-League finals every year with a fifth-place finish being its lowest finish to date. In the 2016 season, City won its first-ever silverware, winning the FFA Cup thanks to a 53-minute goal from Socceroos legend Tim Cahill.
This campaign, Melbourne City has gone to another level. With ex-City skipper Patrick Kisnorbo at the helm, City has dominated the competition. Claiming the premiership with three games to spare is a fantastic achievement and when looking at their stats for the season, you get a real understanding of the type of team Kisnorbo has at his disposal.
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City a class above this campaign
City has won 15 of their 23 matches this season, losing five and drawing three. Their attack, led by Jamie Maclaren (current golden boot leader on 29 goals) has taken all before them, scoring 55 times while their defence is the third-best in the division, only conceding 26 goals. The highlights of the season being two drubbings of cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory in which they scored 13 goals (7-0 and 6-0) and conceded none.
In Patrick Kisnorbo’s first year as head coach, he had led the men’s side to its maiden premiership, three years after doing the same for the club’s W-League team.
After toiling away as the Melbourne Heart, the club has been transformed thanks to the City Football Group and the results have followed. The job is not completed yet as there is still the Grand Final to win, but on Saturday night the club celebrated a monumental achievement.
It was a win not only for the Heart/City fans who have been with the club through the bad times but also for Australian football as it brings attention to the league in a season where it has needed it most.
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