Amazing training facilities? Check. Powerful squad? Check. Aussie superstar in the making? Check. EPL-experienced stars? Check. Rising stars coming through? Check. Impressive off-season preparation? Check. Financially sound? Check.
The building blocks are in place for Melbourne's Cityzens to launch a serious tilt at the double on offer of Hyundai A-League Premiership and Championship.
The final piece of the puzzle is Dutch coach John van 't Schip. Can he remake himself as a ruthless winning manager, able to inspire his troops to greatness when it matters most?
If so, there'll be no stopping City.
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THE BURNING QUESTIONS
- Will Aaron Mooy be able to reproduce his outstanding 2014/15 season form?
- Can they close the gap to fierce neighbours and champions Melbourne Victory?
- Will ‘Prickly Pear’ Bruno Fornaroli be the answer to City’s previous pop-gun attack?
- Can they translate their incredible off-field set-up to results on the pitch?
LESSONS LEARNT FROM LAST SEASON
- They can’t just rely on Mooy’s freakish ability.
- Robi Koren has more impact centrally than out wide.
City has enjoyed a strong pre-season, booking their spot in the Westfield FFA Cup semi-finals this week. A trip to Perth Glory awaits later this month as they search for a first trophy.
In the league and for the second season in a row, van ‘t Schip brings his troops to Allianz Stadium to start the season against Sydney FC.
It’s the start of a blockbuster opening fortnight for the club, which includes the Melbourne Derby the following weekend at Etihad Stadium.
After the two Melbourne rivals met in the finals last season, the derby’s take even greater significance this year and City have two at ‘home’ at AAMI Park this season.
They don’t come up against former boss John Aloisi until round 7 when they head north to take on Brisbane Roar.
The festive schedule sees them travel to Roar again on December 27 before returning home to take on the Sky Blues on January 2.
John van ‘t Schip’s side have a good end to the season with four of six matches on their home turf, including a final round clash with Adelaide United.
- New goal-keeper Thomas Sorensen. A troubled position for the side in the past
- Huge depth after excellent recruiting. Have two players for almost every position.
- The form of Socceroo Aaron Mooy. He’s fast becoming the competition’s most influential player
- Massive expectation on the club. Can they deal with the pressure?
- Injuries. A massive toll in the off-season is troubling and could derail the opening month
Despite a host of new players coming into the club for the new season, you can be sure City will set up in their usual 4-3-3 system. It’s a formation van ‘t Schip prefers and it best suits the squad he has managed to assemble.
One thing that jumps out at you straight away is the experience the side now has in its back five. From Thomas Sorensen in goal, to central defenders Patrick Kisnorbo and Aaron Hughes, to fullbacks Ivan Franjic and Michael Zullo.
They have all played for their national team at some point and are sure to provide a solid base for City this season…something that hasn’t always been a given for the club.
In midfield, Erik Paartalu will sit deep and screen the back four, allowing Mooy and Koren to pull the strings further forward. It’s in attack where things really look exciting for City.
The options for van ‘t Schip in the front three is frightening, choc-full of pace, power and goal-scoring threat. Fornaroli will undoubted lead the line but on the flanks the City boss can choose from the likes of Novillo, Gameiro, William, Dekker, Kuzmanovski and Brown.
- Jacob Melling – Made a strong contribution in limited chances last season. Sure to go to a new level in 2015/16.
- Wade Dekker – A bright up-and-coming attacker, oozes confidence and has an eye for goal.
THE FINAL WORD
There’s been hype surrounding City [and previously Heart] heading into the start of a season in years gone by but it’s always proved to be a false dawn. You get the feeling van ‘t Schip’s side could be the real deal in 2015/16? And what a story it would be if City could finally live up to their potential.
TAB Hyundai A-League Season 11 Championship Futures