Home杭州楼凤 › Melbourne City on the move after key players return from injury: Connor Chapman

Melbourne City on the move after key players return from injury: Connor Chapman

With consecutive 5-1 wins over A-League strugglers Perth Glory and Central Coast Mariners, Melbourne City are flying and rapidly climbing the ladder.
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Has the league’s most consistently inconsistent team found its mojo and hit the sort of form that will make it a serious title contender?

Or is John van ‘t Schip’s boys just beating up on this season’s equivalent of the playground weaklings, making themselves look rough and tough in the process?

Talk to defender Connor Chapman, one of the few ever-presents in the club’s injury-ravaged season so far, and the answer is most definitely the former.

The 21-year-old centre back believes that the return of key players and some good results has led to a big lift in confidence and that City has turned the corner following its season nadir, the horrific 0-3 home loss to Western Sydney in November.

“I think that’s the A-League,” he said on Tuesday. “If you get a few wins in a row, you go straight up the league. That’s what we were focusing on, we needed to get that consistency with the wins instead of winning and losing one. I think we have got on a bit of a roll now.

“All the boys are buzzing right now. You just have to keep thinking like that, keep your head down and keep working.”

Chapman is sure that the recent improvement is due to several players who were out of action earlier in the campaign returning to the training track.

City may have lost forward Corey Gameiro for the season, but Socceroo defender Ivan Franjic has recently come back, while marquee man Robbie Koren is training again as is defender Aaron Hughes, who has managed only half a game since joining in the off-season. James Brown, missing all season, is also training though is not yet ready to play.

“There’s more competition for spots,” Chapman said. “That’s what we needed.

“At the start of the year, we were changing the team in and out. I think we are now getting close to what will be our starting team.

“Robbie is our marquee and he’s a very good player. To have him back would be great. “

Chapman admits that the loss to the Wanderers highlighted all the team’s faults. The Sydney side scored three second-half goals and City simply fell apart.

Since then, they have shown resilience and determination, not just in the two big wins but when they toughed it out for a 1-1 draw in Brisbane.

“We have got a few things to work on, we are not perfect. I think a lot of the players we have brought in this year are a little more experienced, they know how to get wins.

“There is a better feeling around the club this year, there is more expectation.”

What has really boosted the team’s performance is that all of its front players are now capable of hitting the target, and the return of Harry Novillo from injury has given them both a creative and cutting edge. For instance in the win over the Mariners there were four separate scorers.

“When we go forward now, it’s not just our strikers or wingers, everyone in the front part of the field can score.

“Last year, we had a few core players who scored goals. This year, there are maybe eight or nine who have scored so far. That’s a very big positive, and hopefully we can keep doing that.”

Chapman has now played 50 A-League games and notched his first-ever goal against Perth, but he believes there is still a long way for him to go.

So far he has had several defensive partners at the heart of the City rearguard – Patrick Kisnorbo, Hughes, Jacob Melling and Jack Clisby – and while he admits it would be better to have a settled side, he is happy simply to be playing and learning his trade.

“It’s a good feeling to get to the 50. I have developed a lot since I started, and I still feel I have a lot of development to go,” says Chapman, who moved to City before the 2014-15 season after starting at Newcastle.

“It is quite disappointing that we haven’t kept a clean sheet yet. It’s a massive thing that we would have liked.

“But as JVS (van ‘t Schip) has said, it’s not just the defenders, it’s the whole shape of the team that is important. We are definitely working on that at the moment. When we get that right, we will be pretty hard to beat.

“I am focusing on myself playing. Hopefully we can get everyone back and I can cement my spot, someone else can cement theirs,” said Chapman, who is also targeting a spot in ‘s Olympic team for Rio should the Olyroos qualify.

Chapman returns to Newcastle this weekend with City determined to show that their run has not been a fluke. And they have plenty of reason to make a point given the last time they City were two up at the interval only to concede three second-half goals to lose in front of their own fans.

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