City confident of turning ALM corner after derby draw

Anna Harrington |

Coach Aurelio Vidmar feels the derby draw may have been a turning point for Melbourne City.
Coach Aurelio Vidmar feels the derby draw may have been a turning point for Melbourne City.

After a “horrendous” month, Melbourne City coach Aurelio Vidmar is confident his charges have turned a corner.

Seventh-placed City ground out a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Melbourne Victory on Saturday night to steady the ship after a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Brisbane Roar and a 4-2 loss to Perth.

They have just one win in their past six matches, with four losses and Saturday’s draw, and also unexpectedly lost Socceroo Aziz Behich on loan to Al-Nassr late in the January transfer window.

“It’s horrendous, the last five weeks that we’ve had, but I think this was a nice, positive sign,” Vidmar said. 

“We’ve had a couple of heavy weeks over the last fortnight and the intent, you can really see that they were up for it. 

“And if you’re not up for a derby, then you’ve got a problem. 

“So we’ve got to try to keep this momentum, try to keep this intensity, working as a group, I think that was a much better sign tonight.”

While Saturday night was far from the spectacular football City have been known for over the past few years, Vidmar was confident that as the likes of Mathew Leckie, Marco Tilio, Marin Jakolis and Andrew Nabbout built fitness, results would follow.

Playmaker Tolgay Arslan’s return from suspension will also help.

Leckie was sensational against Victory, especially early, in his first start since his hamstring injury, and Vidmar has him pencilled in as an attacking midfielder for now, at least.

Tilio had some exciting moments in his first start since returning on loan, though Vidmar conceded he was, as expected, rusty.

When asked about the prospect of having Leckie and Tilio for an extended run, Vidmar jokingly hit the table and said, “is this wood?”

“Well, of course that’s exactly what we want.

“We had that nice period 10,11 games unbeaten, with almost the same team. 

“And then injuries, people coming in and out and lost that momentum and now we’ve restarted again with those guys back and we have to try to get that rhythm again with these guys.”

Arslan will miss two more games, against Sydney FC and Macarthur, to complete his three-match suspension for his spray towards referee Shane Skinner after the loss to Perth.

“He’s been emotionally on the roundabout, up and down over the last couple of weeks because obviously he needed to know what was going on and it hadn’t got on,” Vidmar said. 

“So it’s clear, it’s done, he’s accepted it. 

“And now he can refocus getting himself the next couple of weeks some nice training into his body and getting ready for selection again.”

Defender Scott Galloway will have scans on a calf injury.