Buckingham: The new dimension to Maclaren's game turning City striker into different beast
Melbourne City assistant coach Des Buckingham says the significant effort Jamie Maclaren has put into developing his link-up play is helping the Socceroos spearhead become a more complete player in the 2020/21 A-League campaign.
Speaking after leading City in the absence of the unwell Patrick Kisnorbo to a 2-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium on Tuesday night, Buckingham lauded Maclaren's commitment to improving his game after the striker netted his sixth and seventh goals of the campaign to go level at the top of the Golden Boot charts.
MATCH REPORT: Western Sydney Wanderers 0-2 Melbourne City
The off-season recruitment of Andrew Nabbout has changed the face of City's frontline, with less of a dependance on Maclaren's darting runs in behind helping diversify the attacking ventures of Kisnorbo's side.
With Nabbout operating to great effect off the right flank in City's past two games, Maclaren has been able to drop deeper to collect the ball and help his side link defence into attack, spreading the ball to great effect down either wing where Nabbout and Craig Noone have wreaked havoc in successive A-League victories.
It's a facet of Maclaren's play Buckingham has seen go from strength to strength since the conclusion of the 2019/20 campaign.
"We know he can go in behind, we know he can score goals - (link-up play) is an area to his game he’s hugely developed through pre-season until now," Buckingham told FOX Sports post-match.
"Again, he’s shown it really well tonight. That’s another dimension which puts us in good stead and allows us to create chances for others."
Buckingham expanded on Maclaren's development in his post-match press conference, explaining how City's spread of attacking talent is helping bear the load often heaped squarely on Maclaren's shoulders.
"(Nabbout) causes a problem, because before maybe Maclaren was looking to run in behind, we’ve now got Andrew, we’ve got Jamie, we’ve got Connor (Metcalfe), we’ve got (Adrián) Luna when he’s fit.
"We’ve got more than one threat in behind. It keeps defences guessing, so it gives us a different dimension and way of playing.
"Jamie continues to deliver for this football club wherever he plays, whether it’s scoring goals or (being used) in a different way that he also is able to link play.
"He’s been really working at developing that side of his game, so not only can he go in behind and cause a problem in terms of scoring goals, but he’s really developed that link up play.
"That was so important to us tonight, to be able to move up the pitch."
Maclaren drew level with Macarthur FC's Matt Derbyshire at the top of the Golden Boot standings on seven goals with his two goals scored against the Wanderers.
Back-to-back braces have helped Maclaren rifle into top-scorer contention, after the City ace netted twice against Sydney FC in Matchweek 9.
The 27-year-old's rich scoring form has coincided with City's resurgence, as successive wins followed a three-game losing stretch.
City's form and Maclaren's red-hot scoring streak have both benefited from Nabbout's return from a hamstring injury in Matchweek 1; he's yet to get off the mark in City colours but he's sparkled in the pair of consecutive wins, offering Maclaren much-needed help in the final third.
"We’ve got Andy back, he’s going to make runs in behind so I can afford to come short and try and drag a man," Maclaren told FOX Sports after securing his brace against the Red and Black.
"We watched Wanderers, we know that they drop deep and allow space for myself to come in.
"It's not my usual game, but you have to adapt."
Melbourne Victory v Melbourne City
Saturday, March 6 2021
Kick-off: 7.10pm AEDT
Western United v Western Sydney Wanderers
Sunday, March 7 2021
Kick-off: 6.10pm AEDT
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