Melbourne City coach John van ‘t Schip defended his decision to start David Villa on the bench despite the Spanish superstar earning a point for his side with a superb goal against Sydney FC on Saturday night.
Villa took just 15 minutes to show his world-class ability, producing a clinical finish to cancel out Corey Gameiro’s stunning opener in front of more than 25,000 fans at Allianz Stadium.
The ex-Barcelona and Atletico Madrid man was introduced three minutes after the break to a standing ovation – even from the home fans – and lit up the contest with his moment of magic.
Asked if he felt he made the right choice benching the World Cup star, van ‘t Schip said: “Yes because he could not play longer than one half, otherwise the risk of injury is too high.
“We all know that normally if he’s fit he’s a player you put in the line-up but because of his period of inactiveness in playing games, you have to build that up, and that counts even for one of the world’s best finishers.
“He has to get more playing rhythm, training with us and today, with 45 minutes playing and a goal, next week will be a different story.
“He can have a good week of training and we’ll make a good decision and well thought out decision again next week because there’s no use to use a player that maybe gets injured because then we probably aren’t doing the job the right way.”
Villa’s equalizer was the least new-look City deserved, dominating the home side for large periods, especially in the first half.
James Brown hit the cross bar with a powerful drive early on, while Mate Dugandzic wasted a gilt-edged chance both before the break.
“We could have got more today but it’s a good result and we’re happy with the performance of the boys,” van ‘t Schip said.
“We always want more…we can work and make sure we make progress because it’s all about getting better.
“We’re still in a phase of gelling and next week we have to make the next step.”
Their cause could be helped with a couple of key players a chance to return for their home match with Newcastle Jets, with van ‘t Schip confirming Robbie Koren and David Williams are edging nearer to full fitness.