‘We have a mission to accomplish’: Galvanised City set sights on silverware
Melbourne City defender Richard Windbichler believes hub life has helped foster togetherness and a laser focus in the City squad as they prepare to fight for a club-first Hyundai A-League Championship on Sunday night.
City progressed into the 2019/20 Grand Final after a 2-0 Semi-Final win over a valiant Western United on Wednesday night; the result sent City further than they have ever gone before in a Hyundai A-League campaign.
But as they prepare to sail into uncharted waters, Windbichler takes great confidence from the attitude of every member of the City squad, who have united in trying circumstances under one goal which they are attacking with an unwavering will to accomplish.
MATCH REPORT: Melbourne City 2-0 Western United
"We want to achieve something big and what better chance to do that than on Sunday?" Windbichler said on FOX Sports after City's historic Semi-Final victory.
"Just a couple of days ago I was thinking to myself, ‘I’m really surprised with the team'.
"Absolutely nobody is complaining about circumstances, about missing home, missing family and I think this is an important point.
"Everybody is here because they want to be, and we have a mission to accomplish.
Windbichler played an enormous hand in City's Semi-Final victory over the Green and Black. His presence in the box forced Tomoki Imai into an aerial duel which resulted in an own goal scored by the United defender to hand City a two-goal lead late in the contest.
Only minutes later, however, Windbichler made an equally important impact on the defensive end when he cleared a dangerous ball away from the goal-mouth with Besart Berisha breathing down his neck.
The Austrian centre-half says aggression was the key to City's Semi-Final win; a facet of play which may have been lacking at the club in years gone by which City have proven to possess throughout the 2019/20 campaign.
“I think we showed [aggression], especially against Western United. They play physical and very tough,” Windbichler said.
“We knew that’s what we needed to get over them.
“We played Western [United] multiple times this year, we knew exactly that they have some key skills, or some certain patterns that can be a key for their success.
“We perfectly shut them down.
“We were perfectly prepared, we kept them out of our box and gave them maybe two or three shots from distance, but for that we have [Tom] Glover.”
Windbichler's faith in the ability of Australia under-23 International Tom Glover was duly rewarded as City's up-and-coming goalkeeping star pulled off a number of phenomenal stops to keep his side in the Semi-Final when it seemed United may pull off a shock upset.
First-half saves to deny Josh Risdon and Max Burgess were eclipsed by a reflex block from a close-range Steven Lustica attempt in the second half as Glover gave his side every opportunity to come out on top.
And, just minutes after his crucial save to keep Lustica off the scoresheet, Glover's stellar work on one end was vindicated by Jamie Maclaren down the other, who opened the scoring from the spot.
From then on City stole the show, but the result could have been a whole lot different if not for Glover's impact in between the sticks.
“That was long 90 minutes,” Glover admitted post-match.
“It’s just the relief - we’ve done this all season, it’s nice to finally get a reward.”
“We go to the big dance on Sunday and hopefully take it out.”
Glover continued: “The key was not to get frustrated. We knew we’d had chances but it was just capitalising on them.
“It was more keeping composure and not getting frustrated because we had the disallowed goal in the first half. It was just about staying composed and getting a goal and taking your opportunity.
“I didn’t know much about [the save from Lustica].
“He was free back post and I just threw out an arm and hoped for the best and luck was on my side tonight so I’m grateful for that.
“My mum and my family were in the stands - you could probably hear my mum, she can’t control herself, she’s a bit loud.
“This means a lot... everyone has made sacrifices and that’s what we said at the start – let’s do it for the people that we’ve gone away for for five or six weeks.”
“We’ve come here for a purpose and we’ve still got one more to go and that’s the main one.”
Sydney FC v Melbourne City