Ernie Merrick has been highly critical of those in charge of scheduling and it’s easy to see why when it comes to his team’s opening round fixture.
WELLINGTON V MELBOURNE CITY
With Wellington set to miss several players due to international commitments, Merrick was livid when he found out that his team was already on the back foot heading into round one. What makes things worse is that Wellington takes on the league’s big spenders in Melbourne City who have endless resources – something the Phoenix doesn’t have the luxury of.
The funny thing is that a lot of people don’t really rate the Kiwis when the season rolls around yet they almost always string together performances throughout the year that makes you second guess yourself.
The critical thing for them if they are to make the finals is winning at home. Traveling to New Zealand is a tough ask for any team and the Phoenix need to make a statement in front of their fans. That said I can’t see them repelling a City outfit that has once again recruited heavily in the offseason.
Melbourne City instantly became everyone’s second team with the signing of Australia’s greatest ever Socceroo, Tim Cahill. Ironically, he won’t be in action here due to international commitments but they will still have the likes of Bruno Fornaroli, Neil Kilkenny and Nicolas Colazo give the home side plenty to think about when it comes to defence. Fornaroli for mine is the key to City’s chances here. He was sensational last season and won the Golden Boot award. He can play with his back to the defence, he can set up other players and also do things that a lot of others in the A-League can’t do. Sure, they won’t have Aaron Mooy to call on this time around but their recruitment has been spot on as far as I am concerned and its up to coach John van’t Schip to bring all the pieces together.
TIP: All the signs points to a City win here but don’t be surprised if Wellington are for the challenge and take the game to them.