A season that provided so many highlights and smashed records ultimately ended with no silverware for Melbourne City. We take a look back at an entertaining Hyundai A-League campaign for the club and what’s in store in 2016/17.
Record: Played 27, Won 13, Drawn 5, Lost 9
Leading Goal Scorer: Bruno Fornaroli (25)
Best home crowd: 25,738 – Round 12 against Melbourne Victory
Star performer: Bruno Fornaroli
The player known as ‘El Tuna’ was a relative unknown at the start of the season but was the name on everyone’s lips by the end after a record-breaking campaign. Fornaroli ended with 25 for the season – many of those absolute screamers – the most ever scored by a player in a single season.
It wasn’t just his goal-scoring feats which caught the eye, with the Uruguayan showing superb dribbling ability, skill and strength to make him almost impossible to stop. Rabona’s, bicycle kicks, volleys, Fornaroli displayed it all. Bravo Bruno!
Breakout player: Ben Garuccio
The 20-year-old became an important player for John van ‘t Schip, playing at both left-back and further forward throughout the campaign. And Garuccio certainly showed he belongs at this level. He gave great balance to the side on the left flank and produced some excellent moments with his sizzling pace and crossing ability.
In all he played 21 times, scoring one goal, providing three assists and a passing accuracy of more than 73 percent. Of the handful of youngsters we saw at City this season, the Adelaide-born flyer was the most consistent.
Goal of the year: Bruno Fornaroli
It often takes something special to win finals matches and that’s what the Uruguayan delivered to help sink Perth Glory in the Elimination Final at AAMI Park. After Glory failed to deal with an Aaron Mooy corner, the ball was bouncing around the penalty area, allowing Fornaroli to hold off his marker, acrobatically throw himself into the air and unleash a bicycle-kick into the top corner of the net. Pure class from brilliant Bruno!
Highlight: Tumbling records
City’s free-spirited play and attack-minded ethos saw the club smash a number of goal-scoring records in 2015/16. City’s 63 goals was the most-ever scored in the regular season by a side, while Fornaroli was the first player to get more than 20 before the Finals Series. With Aaron Mooy (11) and Harry Novillo (10) also prolific, it’s also the first time three players from the same team amassed double figures for the season.
And a lot of the goals were out of this world. Who can forget Fornaroli’s ‘rabona goal’ effort in the Melbourne derby, Novillo’s one against Wellington – from Fornaroli’s deft flick over the defence – and the Uruguayan’s curling effort in the same match. Nick Fitzgerald also scored a howitzer to end Adelaide United’s unbeaten run with a 1-0 win at Coopers late in the season.
Lowlight: Late season slide
With just two games to go, City led the A-League and had destiny in their own hands in the race for the Premiers’ Plate. But they left two of their worst performances for the wrong time, losing 3-2 against Perth in the penultimate round before backing it up with a listless 2-0 defeat at home to Adelaide, which saw the Reds claim the Premiership. From a season that promised so much, it was a rather limp end to the regular season which saw them drop from first to fourth.
What they need:
While City had little trouble finding the net during the last season, keeping them out at the other end was a huge problem. City shipped 44 goals from their 27 regular games, with only the competition’s bottom two sides conceding more. With defenders Patrick Kisnorbo (retired), Alex Wilkinson (Sydney FC) and Aaron Hughes (released) all moving on, a couple of strong central defenders are a must for JVS to take that next step from entertainers to champions. If possible, they also hope to keep a hold of Mooy and Fornaroli for another season with the pair sure to have plenty of suitors abroad. With City’s wealthy backing, a truly big name marquee also wouldn’t go astray!
Acquisitions for next season:
Losses for next season:
Patrick Kisnorbo, Alex Wilkinson, Aaron Hughes, Marc Marino, James Brown, Jason Trifiro, Wade Dekker
Outlook for 2016/17:
It promises to be a very new-look City for next season with a number of players already released and a few more likely to follow. It gives JVS the scope to further re-model his squad to help them take that next step they have – at times – threatened to take over the last two seasons. A lot will rest on the futures of Mooy and Fornaroli. The smart money suggests the pair could be snapped up by big-spending clubs overseas. The pair combined for more than half of City’s goals this season and that will be a lot to replace should they depart. While it seems certain City will again provide plenty of thrills and exciting football for their fans and the rest of the A-League, will they be able to go that little bit further and add silverware to their scintillating play.