Tim Cahill was delighted Melbourne City could give Michael Valkanis an immediate win against Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday night, praising the interim boss for adding “steel” to the side.
City ended a tough week – which saw coach John van ‘t Schip resign – on the perfect note as they accounted for a 10-man Wanderers 1-0 at AAMI Park.
Ivan Franjic’s stunning 19th-minute volley capped a brilliant start from the home side and was enough to snap their five-game winless streak.
“We played great football and we didn’t concede. It’s something we spoke about during the week, being compact and also creating chances,” Cahill told Fox Sports.
“Even though [Wanderers] had a man sent off, we dominated a lot of the ball. We wanted to start off the campaign for the coach on a good note. It’ been a good week, even the intensity in training was great so we’re very happy.
“[Franjic] scored an amazing goal. I’m really happy for the boys and especially the manager. We’ve got a good group of lads and a great staff and hopefully we can keep it going.”
City was well in control but the momentum of the game changed when Wanderers defender Aritz Borda was sent off for an off-the-ball incident with Bruno Fornaroli.
But City failed to ram home their numerical advantage, struggling to create many chances against the 10-men while also lucky not to concede late on from Wanderers substitute Lachlan Scott.
But Cahill defended his side’s approach, especially in the wake of criticism in recent weeks they have been too attacking.
“You can say [we didn’t go to kill the game off] but in the weeks before it’s been 3-3, 2-2, we’ve drawn five games,” the Caltex Socceroos star said.
“One thing is we attack too much, the next thing is we’re too compact and we should have attacked more being up 1-0. You can’t win in this game.
“Valkanis has bought some real steel to this team and you can see in the shape, there was no real clear-cut chances for [the Wanderers]. In the end I think it was convincing for us.”
City is in action again next Thursday with a trip to play champions Adelaide United.