For better or worse, Melbourne City FC are the A-League’s entertainers so far in 2015/16.
But despite the entertaining, enterprising, attacking football City have produced, John van’t Schip would prefer his side finds a more consistent pattern of results.
And that is exactly what he wants from his team in Round 10 against the Newcastle Jets on Sunday, as his side aims to record a third consecutive win.
Despite being part of some of the league’s most entertaining encounters this season, van’t Schip would like to avoid the five-goal ‘thriller’ which was produced last time his team met the Jets.
Leading 2-0 at the half-time break, City appeared comfortable after a dominant first-half display, but fell away completely to allow the Jets to snatch an unlikely, and devastating 2-3 win on Friday 13 November.
Since that match, City have secured 10 points with three wins, one draw and a loss (against the table-topping Wanderers) in its last five matches and have been scoring goals with regularity.
23 goals in 9 matches – an A-League record for most goals in the opening third of the season – and back-to-back 5-1 wins – also an A-League record of consecutive matches with five-goal hauls – represents an impressive start in the goals column, at the very least.
Bruno Fornaroli leads the Golden Boot charts with seven goals in 9 matches, while Aaron Mooy (4) and Harry Novillo (4) have threatened to work their way up into the charts alongside their Uruguayan teammate.
In every win this season for City, the margin has been by at least two goals, with Mariners (3-1, 5-1), Adelaide (4-2) and Perth (5-1) beaten comprehensively.
It’s not just the goals though. The link up play, the creativeness in attack, the transition and enterprising style of football has been just as enjoyable to watch. Fornaroli arguably scored the goal of the season against the Mariners last week after a beautiful dummy and finish from Erik Paartalu’s first-time lay-off pass. There have been plenty of other beautiful goals, too.
When they get it right, City have been able to penetrate, slice through teams and punish them. The front three have been clinical, Mooy in particular, has been magnificent. With Novillo now fit, there’s another dimension – and some decent goals from the Frenchman.
Even in the Melbourne Derby earlier in the season, the team showed character and delivered an entertaining second half display to push their cross-town rivals all the way in a five-goal thriller.
Against Sydney in Round 1, it was an eager and youthful line-up surprised last season’s Grand Finalists with an engaging 1-1 draw.
Despite a marked improvement since the opening rounds and a growth in confidence since the last time City met the Jets, van’t Schip admits the team’s Round 5 encounter will still play on their minds this week.
Although, last Thursday’s 5-1 win over Central Coast has helped to boost morale.
“Yes, of course [the win] helps the confidence, but we’re still working on a lot of things we have to improve,” van’t Schip said.
“We are very happy with the things we are doing well and that is of course scoring goals and creating chances and going forward and playing some exciting football.
“But on the other hand we know we need to work hard on other things that will make us a stronger team.”
Candid as always in his pre-match media conferences, van’t Schip said that the loss to the Jets would have played on the squad’s mind this week.
“I think that is always a factor that you take with you because we want to make sure that we show that that was a mistake and there was too much of difference between the first and the second half.
“We will also know on Sunday [about the team’s confidence] because our team needs to grow getting more results [consistently].
“If now we get a poor result, it’s all the same story. So we just have to make sure we are prepared. If we want to become a team that is going to go for the top spots then you have to have a more consistent pathway in your results.
“That’s why the game against Newcastle is very important.”
City are boosted by the return of international marquee Robi Koren, although van’t Schip was cautious in committing him to a starting XI position after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
“Of course we are happy that Robi is available again, he’s coming off almost two months not playing so again it’s seeing how we can see him start playing.
“He made a good impression in the last few days in training so he will be travelling up with us and we will just have to see how and when we can get him playing some minutes.”