Melbourne Football 2015-16 Player of the Season

1st Bruno Fornaroli 972.11
2nd Aaron Mooy 550.64
3rd Harry Novillo 275.20
4th Thomas Sorensen 264.23
5th Erik Paartalu 117.15
6th Osama Malik 117.02

 

Bruno Fornaroli

Not bad for a first season, hey? Top A-League goalscorer of all time over a season with 25 goals, quickest player to score against every A-League team (done in just 16 rounds), and first ever Melbourne-based player (of any team) to score a hattrick at AAMI are just some of the records that headlined Bruno’s stellar season. But records and stats hardly do justice to Bruno’s fantastic first season in Australia, with the quality of his goals being equally as remarkable as the quantity of goals that he scored.

The addition of Fornaroli to Melbourne City transformed what was to a large degree a one man band in the 2014-15 season (with Mooy playing all the instruments) into the most attacking team in A-League history, which scored 63 goals last season. He became the club’s most prolific goalscorer of all time in less than one season (surpassing David Williams, who took 101 games to score his 21 goals), and with Fornaroli at Melbourne City the club needn’t worry about which striker will lead the line anymore (a very longstanding club question that has finally answered).

Expect Bruno, the PFA striker of the season, to be favourite next season to win the Golden Boot (again). When he first signed for Melbourne City, Bruno said “fans can expect lots of sacrifice for the shirt”. He more than lived up to his promise, every game showing a first class attitude, and always giving his all for the shirt. Bravo Bruno! and we look forward to many more games with you fighting for Melbourne City jersey.

 

Aaron Mooy

Last season’s Melbourne Football player of the season this time claimed second place. Mooy took barely half a season to break the A-League record for assists over one season, and finished with 21 assists overall in 2015-16 (more assists than the second and third best assist providers combined). Mooy had 37 goal involvements over the season (11 goals, 21 assists, 5 secondary assists), which is more goals created than what four whole A-League teams scored (Sydney FC, Wellington, Central Coast, Newcastle).

The newly minted Socceroos regular was another Melbourne City player that walked into the A-League Team of the Season. Mooy’s spectacular attacking football will live long in the memory, and Melbourne City fans can rejoice in having seen the rising star of Australian football first make a name for himself at our club.

 

Harry Novillo

The mercurial Frenchmen missed most of pre-season with injury, as well as the first four A-League rounds, but bounced back to produce the excellent return of 10 goals over 20 starts. Combining wonderfully with Fornaroli and Mooy, Harry was the third member of the A-League’s most deadly attacking trio. Arguably the Melbourne City player with the most x-factor, who downright embarrassed many a defender, Harry also made the PFA Team of the Season (alongside Fornaroli and Maclaren as the front three).

The passionate player was a prime source of entertainment for A-League observers over the 2015—16 season, and the 24 year old still has lots of football ahead of him, where he’ll hopefully continue to dazzle at AAMI Park.

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Things To Look Out For This Season

On paper things have never looked better for Melbourne City (or Melbourne Heart) going into a season. Absolutely first class training facilities, two quality A-League players for each position, the club’s superstar Aaron Mooy re-signed on a long term contract, and good foreign players including a very promising striker.

 

But on the pitch as well, during pre-season, things have never looked better before a season. Melbourne City smashed fellow 2014-15 A-League finalists Wellington Phoenix 5-1 in competitive play in the FFA Cup, and followed up with a good 5-0 win against NPL side Heidelberg United to make the FFA Cup semi-finals (streets ahead of last season’s round 32 FFA Cup exit).

 

Football seasons rarely follow the pre-season script, and football matches aren’t played on paper, but Melbourne City has never had a stronger base to build from. Therefore there should be plenty of things to look out for this season, and a shortlist of key points includes:

 

 

Aaron Mooy – The kid is ready to take the A-League by the scruff of the neck, and become far and away the A-League’s best Australian player, with Milligan and Burns having departed the scene. He is already dominating the FFA Cup, being the competition’s top scorer with 6 goals (the next best A-League players, such as Berisha, and City’s own Bruno Fornaroli, have 3), and there’s no reason to think he won’t dominate the A-League again this season. Melbourne City will just have to make sure Mooy isn’t a one-man band again, and have some other players step up this season.

 

 

Robert Koren – The club’s other marquee looks set to produce after a consistent and eye-catching pre-season. During pre-season Koren got on the scoresheet, provided assist after assist, and started to show real class by linking up superbly with Aaron Mooy and Bruno Fornaroli in particular. Now that Koren is fit and is nearly always playing in his preferred number 10 position, due to Melbourne City strengthening in the striker and winger positions (where Koren all too often played as a stop-gap last season), the Slovenian star looks set for a much more influential season this time around.

 

 

A multitude of attacking options – If Melbourne City can field all of its best attacking options, namely Fornaroli, Novillo, Gameiro, Koren and Mooy all at once, with Zullo and Franjic supporting attacks from the fullback positions, Melbourne City possesses an absolutely devastating number of attacking options. Even half of these attackers should be able to regularly breach A-League defences, especially with 2nd string attacking options like Kuzmanovski, Dekker and Williams occasionally chipping in. Given that Melbourne City produced the most shots last season, with 11.4 shots averaged per game, maybe this is the season where Melbourne City can consistently produce goals. With the stellar service that City’s attackers look set to receive from players like Mooy and Koren, all the ingredients seem there this season for Melbourne City’s attack to truly fire.

 

 

Competition, experience and winners all over the park – How many A-League teams have a Premier League great justifiably starting on the bench? That’s what Melbourne City could have this season, with EPL great Thomas Sorensen in fierce competition with Tando Velaphi to be the team’s starting goalkeeper. And this situation is indicative of the fierce competition across the team for places, with two quality players by A-League standards for every position. Also, the team features a mind-blowing amount of experience, with Sorensen and Aaron Hughes both having played in over 400 Premier League games each. Furthermore, Aaron Mooy, Erik Paartalu and Ivan Franjic have all won silverware in the A-League before. So altogether Melbourne City should have the playing list to be successful in games and to have a successful season.

 

 

Injuries – Seemingly always an issue, the team has multiple players unavailable due to injury, with the latest reports naming James Brown, Marc Marino, Ivan Franjic, Harry Novillo, Corey Gameiro and Ben Garuccio sidelined. And whilst there can be zero excuses for Melbourne City this season, every A-League team would rather have no injury list or a short injury list instead of several injured players, especially since A-League clubs can only have rosters of 23 players.

 

 

John van’t Schip – There is no debate over this point: this season is make or break for John van’t Schip. This season will likely define JVS’ whole A-League career, with his job certainly on the line if he can’t produce a successful season. The winning percentages don’t look good for JVS: 2010-11 season – 26.67%, 2011-12 season – 32.14%, 2013-14 season – 40%, 2014-15 season – 34.48%. One interesting point to note is that JVS has topped the league for draws in 2010-11 with 11 draws, 2014-15 with 8 draws, and he had the 2nd most draws in 2011-12 with 10 draws. So his teams haven’t been losing a lot, but they haven’t been winning a lot either. This season JVS must turn those draws to wins to have a successful season, keep his job and keep the demanding new ownership group, The City Football Group, happy.

 

 

Overall the above is just a handful of big stories set to make Melbourne City’s 2015-16 season full of interest. And there will undoubtedly be many more starring players and important stories this season. With the City Football Group bringing together so much promising ingredients this season the question is: how good can this season be?

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Melbourne Football 2014-15 Player of the Season

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Aaron Mooy
Mooy just about won the Melbourne Football player of the season award after the first third of the season, with Mooy being voted Man of the Match 7 times over the first 9 games, which is simply incredible stuff from a new player in his first season. And Mooy would go on to be voted Man of the Match for half of Melbourne City’s 27 games over the regular season, with Mooy’s truly outstanding efforts on the pitch being acknowledged by Melbourne City supporters week after week.
A glance over the amount of stats Mooy topped, both for Melbourne City and for the league as a whole, shows why Mooy is such a deserving winner:

  • Top goal-scorer at Melbourne City with 7 goals
  • Top assist-provider at Melbourne City with 8 assists (the only player in the league to top both goals and assists at his club)
  • Contributed to 47% of Melbourne City’s season goals
  • Top creator of chances in the league with 92
  • Top shot assist provider in the league with 76
  • Top crosser in the league with 250 crosses
  • No 1 for balls into the penalty area in the league
  • No 1 for completed through balls in the league
  • No 2 for effective tackles in the league with 77 effective tackles
  • No 1 for tackles evaded in the league

And it wasn’t just Melbourne City supporters giving Mooy high praise, with Fox Sports naming Mooy their player of the season with the Alex Tobin Award, and SBS likewise naming Mooy their player of the season with Mooy winning the Les Murray Medal. Ange Postecoglou also recognised Mooy’s fantastic season by calling him up to the Socceroos squad to face World Champions Germany, where Mooy got a 21 minute run-out as the Socceroos drew 2-2 with the World Champs, and by playing Mooy for most of the Socceroos following match against Macedonia. So with Mooy featuring significantly in the Socceroos most recent matches, he looks set to feature in Socceroos matches going forward.
With Mooy having such an amazing 2014-15 season, the “MCFC” on the team badge might as well stand for “Mooy City Football Club”, as he has been the heart of the team. And all Melbourne City supporters are keen to see Mooy starring in the team jersey again next season.

Tando Velaphi
Tando Velaphi didn’t exactly join the club with much fanfare when he signed up as the club’s no 2 goalkeeper in the 2013-14 season. However Velaphi has shown himself to be an extremely dedicated player and an extremely hard worker, making the most of all chances that have come his way to earn another 1 year deal for the 2014-15 season, and then to without doubt become the club’s no 1 goalkeeper from round 9 (the December 1-0 home win against Brisbane) onwards.
Velaphi obtained the equal most clean sheets in the league with 9 alongside Janjetovic of Sydney FC, despite the fact that Janjetovic had 10 more starts than Velaphi. Hence Velaphi averaged the highest percentage of clean sheets in the league out of all the no 1 keepers, with 47.37% clean sheets kept (9 clean sheets over 19 games).
All up Velaphi deservedly claims Melbourne Football’s no 2 player of the season accolade, due to the remarkably safe and consistent presence Velaphi was in goal over the season. And there’s no question now that Velaphi is a widely praised fan favourite.

Patrick Kisnorbo
Donning the captain’s armband for the 2014-15 season at the club, Kisnorbo was a real rock at the back and provided invaluable leadership throughout the season. The only player to play every second of Melbourne City’s 29 games this season, Kisnorbo lead the team from the back and was a positive ever-present in the team. In particular his experience and his willingness to give his all for the team, often putting his body on the line, was a first class example to the other players of commitment and loyalty to the team and the club.
Kisnorbo stepped up when it really mattered, garnering 4 Man of the Match awards over the last 11 matches of the season and Melbourne City’s 2 finals matches. He also topped the league in clearances with 191, 20 more than the next best defender.
So the captain deservedly rounds out Melbourne Football’s top 3 players of the season, with Kisnorbo providing real leadership and commitment that is most welcome at the club.

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Goals From Midfield

In the 2014-15 season, Melbourne City should have something that has previously been lacking: consistent goal-scoring midfielders.

Koren
Photograph by Jason Heidrich

Especially with the arrival of Robert Koren, the former captain of Slovenia and EPL side Hull City, and to a lesser degree with the arrival of Aaron Mooy and Erik Paartalu, Melbourne City will possess talented midfielders that know how to find the back of the net.
With the noteworthy exception of the Dutch giant Orlando Engelaar, who impressively scored 5 goals over 12 appearances (791 minutes), at a remarkable rate of 158 minutes per goal, the club’s midfielders have been inconsistent at best when it comes to being goal-threats, as the table below indicates:

Goal scoring stats for midfielders

Matt Thompson currently holds the record for being the club’s top-scoring midfielder, with 7 goals. However, it took Thompson 82 games and over 7000 minutes for him to amass the record number of 7 goals, meaning that Thompson effectively scored only 1 goal every 1003 minutes, which makes Thompson the least efficient goal-scoring midfielder out of the list of midfielders who got goals across Melbourne Heart’s 4 seasons.
Thompson can be consoled by the fact that he found the back of the net (and to his credit, on several occasions), whereas about half of the midfielders who have worn the club jersey have failed to get off the mark, with that list of midfielders including: Josip Skoko, Kliment Taseski, Wayne Srhoj, Paul Reid, Marcel Meeuwis, Massimo Murdocca, Stefan Mauk and Paulo Retre.
Other goal-scoring midfielders have been inconsistent, and haven’t threatened goal regularly during their respective stays at the club. The most lethal goal-scoring midfielder after Engelaar has been Andrea Migliorini, who on average scored a goal every 217 minutes. Yet he didn’t play consistently, with his short stint at the club comprising less than half of a season. Kristian Sarkies’ respectable minutes per goal ratio also masks his inability to regularly play in the team.

Germano
Germano and Kalmar effectively represent the best goal-threats that the club has had in midfield, with both players scoring 6 goals overall, and both averaging approximately 1 goal per 6 full games of football. If either player could make the starting 11 and hold down a midfield position for the whole season, one could expect that either Germano or Kalmar would score 4 goals over the season, if they maintained the form they have previously shown at the club. 4 goals across a whole season would be good, but not great (and then, of course, what else the midfielders bring to the table would have to be analysed).

Robert Koren has scored over 100 goals at club level. Having been a mainstay in every club team he’s played for, Koren has played somewhere between 400 and 550 club matches, which can also be attributed to the impressive fitness and remarkably few injuries that Koren has had throughout his distinguished club career. But what stands out when surveying Koren’s club career is his goals.
Koren has been a prolific goal-scorer at every club he’s played for. And what will please Melbourne City supporters is Koren’s prolific goal-scoring form at Koren’s previous club Hull City, where Koren scored 1 goal about every 4 games in the Championship (the English 2nd division) and 1 goal every 5 starts in the English Premier League. Koren scored 7 goals over the 40 games he played during his first season at Hull (in the Championship) in 2010-11, 10 goals over 41 Championship league games with Hull in 2011-12, and 9 league goals with Hull over 40 games in the 2012-13 Championship season, enough to beat Hull’s strikers to be Hull’s top goal-scorer that season! And given that the likes of the Championship are a cut above the A-League, one could not unreasonably expect Koren’s prolific goal-scoring rate to increase in the A-League. As prominent Hull City blogger Rick Skelton simply put it when asked by the Melbourne City blog Noisy Neighbour what Robert Koren would bring to Melbourne City: “Goals. He’ll get at least six from midfield every season and some will be spectacular”.

Aaron Mooy and Eric Paartalu seem set to play slightly deeper roles in midfield, but nonetheless both have a history of consistently chipping in with goals from midfield. Youngster Aaron Mooy found the back of the net 3 times last season with the Wanderers, while last season he also claimed a goal in the Asian Champions League, despite playing a mere 168 minutes in that competition. Also, Mooy’s goal-scoring prowess has been displayed in the Socceroos, where Mooy got 3 goals over his 3 Socceroos games to date, with all 3 goals demonstrating Mooy’s impressive ability to score goals from distance. And there’s no reason to believe that young Aaron Mooy’s best goal-scoring days are behind him.
Despite Erik Paartalu often playing as the deepest midfielder, he obtained 4 goals every season at Brisbane, and got 4 goals in the 2013 Chinese Super League season with Tianjin Teda. He is also capable of scoring a variety of goals, such as important goals like his massively important 2010-11 Grand Final equalizing header, and spectacular goals, such as his sumptuous volley in the 2010-11 A-League season (which was named goal of the season).

The question can be asked: is it important if midfielders score goals? The answer is a clear yes. Last season, midfielders scored goals in half of the games that Heart picked up points in, that is in 7 out of 14 games. And if the nil-nil draws are subtracted, the more impressive ratio of 7 out of 12 games is revealed. So whilst it perhaps isn’t the foremost criterion on which to judge midfielders, it is a big bonus that this Melbourne City team includes the likes of Koren, Mooy and Paartalu. These midfielders all possess ample ability to score goals, and if history is any guide, they all could be the difference in games with their goal-scoring ability, and a significant amount of valuable points could be won by the goal-scoring ability of Koren, Mooy and Paartalu.

So with the most attacking and goal-threatening midfield that the club has ever fielded, expect the midfield to be a consistent goal-threat, and a provider of important (and possibly dazzling) goals in the 2014-15 A-League season.

This article is by Melbourne Football community member Murfy1.

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