Melbourne City keep look to cement finals spot against Western Sydney Wanderers FC

April 2, 2015 – 9:23PM

Michael Lynch

Senior sports reporter with The Age

John van't Schip

John van’t Schip Photo: Getty Images

Melbourne City cannot afford to let the Perth Glory salary cap investigation cloud their thinking as they push to secure the final play off spot, coach John van’t Schip says.

The Dutchman says his team must just “control the the controllables” and he is reluctant to be drawn into speculation as to how any punishment that may be meted out to the Glory could impact on where his side finishes on the league table at season’s end.

If convicted there has to be a significant chance that the West Australian club will be docked points as a punishment, and that could be to theadvantage of sixth-placed City and defending champions Brisbane Roar, who look like they will miss out on a finals berth.

Van’t Schip, however, is focusing only on the task ahead when his team aim to cement their play-off berth at Brisbane’s expense when they travel to take on last year’s beaten grand finalists Western Sydney Wanderers in Paramatta on Good Friday evening.

“We can’t control those things [the FFA investigation], and its not for us to talk about . We will see and hear about it in the coming weeks, but we have to just make sure that we do our job and make the finals.

“A win [over Wanderers] will not guarantee that, but it will help a lot. But looking at West Sydney it’s not easy. We played them a few weeks ago, led twice and still lost.”

That was the game when City played out the final minutes – when they conceded the crucial third goal that gave the Wanderers a 3-2 victory – with 10 men following Connor Chapman’s sending off after the young centre back had a brain snap and manhandled the referee.

Since then the Wanderers have improved: they won 4-1 in Brisbane against the Roar, a result no one saw coming, and then were unlucky to lose to Perth by the odd goal in five last weekend.

Playing in the knowledge that they can’t make the finals and nor can they be relegated seems to have lifted the pressure from Tony Popovic’s team, and ensures that despite their poor overall record this season they cannot be taken lightly.

“They are playing freely, they are in good form, they are looking dangerous going forward with (Kerem) Bulent and (Romeo) Castelen.

“That’s what we saw against Brisbane, and also against Perth, they deserved more there. They looked very dangerous. And also they have had the same team a few times on the pitch together almost in the same formation. Their line up has been quite similar in the last three games. ”

Aaron Mooy has been City’s most consistent player all season and his efforts were rewarded with a Socceroos call up for the recent matches against Germany and Macedonia. He will be back in time for the Wanderers game, and it is likely he will be thrown in from the start against his former club even though Van’t Schip was happy that his team was able to win last week against Brisbane without his services.

” We will meet him in Sydney, I will have a chat with him, see how he feels. If he feels okay for certain he will have a part in the game. We will discuss whether we start with him when I see him.

“I think the boys proved that the team is strong and stronger (in winning without him last week). Aaron has been very important as he gives us something extra. But without him we had a very important win. Its only a good sign that we can win without him.”

In the win over City two forwards, Josh Kennedy (early in the second half) and James Brown (after half an hour) limped out of action. Their prognosis could not be more different.

Kennedy has trained with the squad all week and, says Van’t Schip, “looks ready to play and start.”

But the unfortunate Brown is now ruled out for the season. The injury-prone forward hurt his ankle in the win over Brisbane, and had an operation on Wednesday.

“He will not be back for this year,” said Van’t Schip before City’s final training session ahead of the Wanderers game on Thursday morning.

A feature of City’s play this campaign is the fact that it has been getting off to quick starts, often scoring early but been unable to hold on to its lead. It did the same against Brisbane, who dominated the second half, and Van’t Schip is anxious for his side not to continue in this vein.

“I think the thing we forgot to do (against Brisbane) was play our own game more. It was down to us that we lost too many balls and gave up possession. It then becomes hard, as you don’t get that moment of rest, or you are not able to control the game when you don’t have possession. We have spoken to the players about this.

City has now won three on the spin and is shedding the reputation it earned earlier this season for flakiness. But with three of its final four matches away from home it will need all of its concentration if it is not to lapse and allow Brisbane to sneak back ahead of it.

“Winning three in a row gives the boys more confidence and especially now going into the last part of the seaosn. But there are still four really tough games ahead of us starting against Western Sydney.

“I don’t think too much about it (playing away from home). We have shown we can win away, at Newcastle, Sydney and in Brisbane. We have had good away wins. If we can play to the best of our quality we can win games away. It only a good sign that we could win against an in form team like Sydney (whom City beat 1-0 at Allianz Stadium a fortnight ago). Winning a difficult game like that should help the team.”

 

The Canberra Times

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