City look at Reds revival for inspiration

Melbourne City FC coach John van ‘t Schip says Adelaide United’s transformation from strugglers to front-runners can be the model for his side ahead of Friday night’s clash between the two teams.

The Reds were leaking goals and failing to convince early in Josep Gombau’s tenure last year, before a mid-season revival saw them march into the Hyundai A-League finals in some style.

They are unbeaten so far in the HyundaiA-League, sitting joint top alongside Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC after three rounds and have also reached the semi-finals of the inaugural Westfield FFA Cup.

With the pressure certain to increase if his team continue their winless start, van’t Schip made a point on Thursday of highlighting the time it has taken Gombau to get in right at Coopers Stadium.

“They’re playing good football,” he said.

“Josep’s put a team on the pitch that now (after) more than a year’s time, you really see that they have made progress.

“If you remember the start was also difficult there, they were playing good football (but not winning). 

“I think if you look at our situation you can compare it a little bit to how they started last year – playing good football but not getting the results that they maybe deserved. 

“Sticking to their belief, sticking to the way they play, you see that now, the results are coming from out of that philosophy. It’s good to see. 

“The way they play is very fluent, very attacking, very entertaining, the way that I like it as well. We’re not far from that. Only it takes … time to make those steps. Hopefully we can start tomorrow.”

Adelaide have Australia’s football hipsters drooling in 2014-15 with their seamless switch from 3-4-3 to 4-3-3 during matches, holding midfield Isaias dropping into defence when his side are out of possession.

Van ‘t Schip is intimately familiar with that tactical ploy, but claimed his privileged apprenticeship in one of the world’s leading youth academies will not afford him a secret weapon to counter the Reds’ fluidity. 

“We started it from the Dutch school, the Ajax system in the 90s playing that (formation),” he said when asked about Adelaide’s ploy.

“(Johan) Cruyff implemented it (at) the time when he was having the dream team (at Barcelona) with (Ronald) Koeman going into the midfield and playing with three at the back. 

“It’s nothing new, but he (Gombau) did from out of injury problems and it worked well, so he has now the option he can switch in a team and that’s very good.”

Van ‘t Schip confirmed David Williams would be available again after he was a late withdrawal from the Melbourne derby, although Connor Chapman has suffered a minor setback in his comeback from injury in the National Youth League, meaning the former Newcastle Jet must continue to wait for the chance to make his City debut.

Melbourne City FC host Adelaide United FC in Round 4’s Harvey Norman Friday Night Football match LIVE on SBS One and Fox Sports 1 and 1HD from 7.30pm (AEDT).