Former Socceroos Mark Bosnich and Ned Zelic have criticised Melbourne City for their casual and risk-averse approach in recent weeks, with the former suggesting it may have something to do with the handling of the Bruno Fornaroli saga.
Speaking on Fox Sports’ A-League Hour, the pair reviewed footage that ‘looked like a warm-up’ from City’s 3-1 upset loss to Newcastle Jets over the weekend.
“They’re passing on responsibility,” Zelic said.
“I think ball speed has a lot to do with it as well… some of the passing… they’re just rolling the ball to each other. How can you shift the opponent around?”
“I mean the concerning thing as well is they did switch the angle of attack on a few occasions and had the opportunity to play the ball in between the lines but they didn’t do it. So that’s concerning and that’s really somewhere where they have to find a lot more urgency and take risks, just play that ball in there.”
After operating without a striker for a number of months following the banishment of Fornaroli by coach Warren Joyce, City now have new recruits Jamie Maclaren and Shayon Harrison leading the line. But the stats show that their teammates remain hesitant to send the ball towards goal.
Stats acquired by A-League Hour, show the Melburnians have made more overall passes than any other side in the competition – and yet they’re last for percentage of passes moving forward and percentage of passes long.
It’s a trait that Bosnich believes will cost them come finals time and one that has manifested on the back of a fear factor surrounding the coach following his hard-line stance on the talismanic Fornaroli.
“No I don’t think so [that City will make a managerial change soon],” Bosnich said.
“I think that’s a step too far right at this moment in time. But one thing I will say, is out of something good can come something bad and out of something bad can come something good. Now we spoke about [Bruno] Fornaroli before, I actually was in Warren Joyce’s corner because if they signed something and they all bought into it and one player no matter who he is goes against that, you’ve got to stand your ground.
“That’s a good thing. But the bad thing to come out of that… in terms of you’re playing in a certain way and the striker is so important, and then you haven’t got a striker for so long so you’ve cut off your nose to spite your face. Now you’ve got these two new additions and you’ve got to do something before the finals series.
“The other by-product of all that was the rest of the players, and I think this comes down to a little bit how they’re playing, would have seen that situation and gone ‘oh yeah Warren you are the boss… and whoa I don’t want to be on the bad side of you.’ But that can lead to down the line, a little bit of fear. All it takes after that is a couple of times you drop a player for maybe taking a few too many risks then all of a sudden players start playing safe.
“Start playing the pass they know they can’t get in trouble for; they need to release themselves a little bit. Because if they are to win, they’re not going to win the title in terms of being champions of the whole season, but if they are to progress in the finals series, in a one off game you need to have people who are going to take risks and basically play to win rather than play to make sure I don’t lose.”