Isuzu UTE A-League season preview: Melbourne City

Enjoy KEEPUP’s season countdown with our club-by-club previews. Scroll down to the foot of the page to access your club’s article.

The reigning Isuzu UTE A-League Champions return for another crack at silverware in 2021/22, with a strike force brimming with Socceroos set to excite the City faithful through the club’s title defence.

Rival sides have strengthened in the off-season, adding considerable firepower to their squads in an attempt to close the gap. But under head coach Patrick Kisnorbo, City will not be willing to relinquish their grip on either piece of silverware clinched in 2020/21.

Major ins

Mathew Leckie, Jordon Hall, Manuel Pucciarelli

Major outs

Craig Noone, Ben Garrucio, Adrián Luna

Head coach: Patrick Kisnorbo

City record: 29 games, 17 wins, four draws, eight losses

Patrick Kisnorbo. PK. The steely-eyed operator who barely took time to look down at the Championship medal draped around his neck on Grand Final night last season before firing up his charges to repeat the feat in the following campaign.

After a long and arduous off-season the moment has finally arrived for the City squad to put those words into action. You can guarantee his team of Champions have not returned for a victory lap; the intense head coach will make sure of that. Expect Kisnorbo’s side to burst out of the blocks this season in defence of their crown.

Can’t take your eyes off: Jamie Maclaren

City’s sensational spearhead has bagged 48 goals from 49 games across his last two Isuzu UTE A-League campaigns, collecting back-to-back Golden Boot awards for his troubles. Maclaren scored a brace on five occasions last season, feasting on Melbourne Victory in a 7-0 Melbourne Derby romp with a five-goal haul which helped him on his way to a total of 25 strikes for the season.

One of the most clinical strikers in the competition’s history, Maclaren could become even more potent in 2021/22 after the arrival of a certain Socceroos teammate set to change the face of City’s attack.

Reasons to be cheerful

That front three. 

Jamie Maclaren, Andrew Nabbout, Mathew Leckie: three Socceroos forwards will link up at City this season, intent on terrorising defensive lines around the league. 

Nabbout operated off the right flank for the majority of the 2020/21 campaign, with Noone on the left and Maclaren down the middle. How this new strike trio combine in the upcoming season remains to be seen, but excitement is rife amongst the City faithful as the tantalising prospect draws ever closer.

Overall, Kisnorbo has managed to retain the core of his Championship-winning squad, which holds the club in good stead to maintain consistency in 2021/22. The loss of both Noone and Adrian Luna will hurt City’s cause, but the addition of Leckie and Italian attacking midfielder Manuel Pucciarelli will mitigate the loss. 

City’s preferred defensive quintet (goalkeeper Tom Glover and defenders Nathaniel Atkinson, Nuno Reis, Curtis Good and Scott Jamieson) are all back on board this season to provide Kisnorbo’s side with a secure launchpad from which to launch. And when they do, keep your eyes on Stefan Colakovski, Marco Tilio and Connor Metclafe – City’s three young talents capable of soaring to new heights in 2021/22.

Jamie Maclaren scored 25 goals from 24 games in 2020/21

… and reasons to be fearful: 

City’s domination of the 2020/21 Isuzu UTE A-League campaign produced two trophies and countless memories for the faithful home fans desperate for domestic success. But with success comes expectation, and anything less than a title defence would be considered a disappointment for Kisnorbo’s side this time around.

Eager to prevent City from doing exactly that are a number of rival clubs with significant additional firepower at their disposal in 2021/22. The calibre of off-season signings across the board will reduce the disparity in quality between the champs and the challengers, leaving City with no easy path back to the top of the pile.

Fan’s’ eye – by Tanya Davis

Why we believe:  I’ve always been impressed by our perseverance year by year which makes following this club exciting for me every moment I watch them – and last year we finally won the league. We played entertaining football and it was something special to finally watch the men lift that trophy.

Aside from our football, City is a club that offers an intimate relationship with their fans, we always have great accessibility to experiences and players which is great for young ones and the kids to meet their heroes and heroines. City invest a lot of time in the local public space through their on-going program City in The Community, with a lot of social impact through using the power of football to develop volunteer and leadership programs in areas such as football schools, health, people with disabilities etc. I’ve been lucky to participate in their Cityzens Giving for Recovery campaign during COVID and just knowing that I can contribute makes me love this club even more!

Who we believe: you will always hear Jamie Maclaren’s name in the stands. He gets the job done and in a style that just drives fans crazy. But another reason I love our club is that all the players are equally loved by all. 
For example, Stefan Colakovski literally is one of us and is achieving our dreams of being a fan to footballer for their favourite club. We hold the highest of faith in our Captain Scott Jamieson. We’ve seen Connor Metcalfe rise from the youth into the senior squad – we love the fact that City really invests in their youth, that’s special to fans. And without the Glove (Tom Glover) there would be no love.

The magic of matchday is… Match day has its own mood: I always feel a great sense of pride when I get dressed up in my football kit and head off out the door. I know that even if I attend a match alone, I will always find friends amongst the fans. We are all there for the same thing – football and our club. We all feel nervous and excited together, we cheer together, we celebrate together. It’s that sense of community that’s magic. 
If I could change one thing about my club… maybe Jamo can take penalties more often! Who doesn’t love a Scott Jamieson goal? 


By Tom Smithies and Matt Comito

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