“I do understand what people think of us” — Jamieson well aware of target(s) on his club’s back

As A-League Men’s (ALM) reigning premiers and champions, Melbourne City has an obvious target on their back this season. Captain Scott Jamieson, however, says there’s been one there for years — and he’s not bothered by it. 

In a marketplace of ideas renowned for its ability to produce differences in opinion and a resulting fierce debate, the lead into the 2021-22 ALM season was remarkable in how united the zeitgeist was around one concept; almost every preview and pundit of note tapping Patrick Kisnorbo’s side as the prohibitive favourites to repeat their premiership and championship-winning exploits from last season.

It doesn’t take a genius to see why, either. Possessing a strong core of veteran talent surrounded by talented youngsters such as Connor Metcalfe and Marco Tilio that would only improve with another year under the belts, the club went out and added Socceroo captain Mat Leckie and former Serie A attacker Manuel Pucciarelli to their ranks this season — bolstering an attack that already featured reigning Golden Boot winner Jamie Maclaren and recent Socceroo call-up Andrew Nabbout. 

City defeated Brisbane Roar 2-1 in the season-opening fixture last week.
Image Credit: Melbourne City

Though football is ultimately played together on the pitch and this collection of talent still needs to prove itself as a collective unit in the months ahead, it represented an embarrassment of on-field riches for a club — finally matching their off-field status. 

City, then known as Melbourne Heart, went from the poor house to the penthouse almost overnight when the club was acquired by the cashed-up City Football Group in 2014; their new benefactors quickly moving to provide their new club with some of the best facilities in the game un Bundoora in an outpouring of petrodollar-fueled generosity.

For Jamieson, this means that he’s well-accustomed to being targeted whenever his side takes the field on weekends. 

“I think we’ve kind of been [targeted] for a while,” he said. [Media figures] talk about the owners of this football club and the oil money as such. 

“I understand that the backing of this club is talked about but I also understand the perception this club gets in regards to being treated like spoiled kids in the past. I don’t necessarily focus on what others think of us, I embrace who we are and who we are and what we’re trying to be.

“And whatever people think of us, no issues with that whatsoever. What we can do is try to and work to get better, but also work to improve our club, our members and our fans. I don’t necessarily look at it as [being pantomime villains] but I am a realist and I do understand what people think of us and what other players think of us.”

For the City skipper, this outlook means that last year’s premiership and championship double has done little to add pressure to he and his teammates this season; the group already well acquainted with the reception their privileged position receives from opposition fans and players alike. 

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Instead, echoing similar refrains to coach Patrick Kisborbo and teammate Nathaniel Atkinson, Jamieson says that there remains a hunger in the group to continue to meet the expectations demanded by their own internal culture. 

See Also: “I’m not perfect, never claimed to be…” – Kisnorbo keeping a singular focus ahead of A-League Men season

“I don’t think it has changed, I think the change [in perception] comes from [the media],” he said.

“I don’t think it’s within the club, I think the club is a realist in that we have won our first premiership and championship but within the club and the characters within the club there’s no case of complacency or there’s no place for patting ourselves on the back. 

“There’s still the hunger, there’s still the desire to get better individually and collectively. I think the view of the football club has changed from the outside rather than the inside. Yeah, we hadn’t won any titles prior to last year but we always knew that there was pressure from outside the club because of the backing, the resources and all that. When I played against City I wanted to beat them because I saw them as spoiled kids. 

“So I understand where other clubs and other players have always thought of us. I don’t think it’s necessarily changed inside the club, there’s no necessary change inside the club, there’s always a want and hunger to get better and win titles.”

City’s attempt to meet their internal expectations, and secure a back-to-back Premiership/Championship double, got off to a winning, albeit shaky, start last Friday evening: holding off a fast-finishing Brisbane Roar to run out 2-1 winners at AAMI Park

Goals from Curtis Good and Connor Metcalfe had the Citizens sitting two goals to the good entering the half-time break in that contest, only for coach Warren Moon’s Roar to adjust and, helped by a strong performance off the bench from Luke Ivanovic, fight back to force a few nervy moments from the hosts — including a disallowed goal for offside late on in the game that would have tied things up at 2-2. 

See Also: Roar go down fighting as City escape season opener with the three points

City boss Patrick Kisnorbo didn’t even attempt to obfuscate his frustration with his side’s second 45 minutes following the contest and Jamieson acknowledged that lessons had been taken from the near-miss ahead of his side’s meeting with Adelaide this Saturday. 

“I think we identified where we let slip with our structure, with our press and with our intensity,” the City captain explained. “It was clear for everyone to see when it’s on a video and when it’s in your eyes. 

“That was good to be able to see that where we went wrong and it’s about making sure we don’t make the same mistake twice. For us, we feel that, albeit it was a disappointing second half, we did enough to squash the game inside 60 minutes and we didn’t do that. The opportunities were there for us to win the game convincingly but we didn’t. 

“We will look towards looking to rectify a few slips within ourselves as individuals and then as a team but then build on the good stuff from last week.

“[Saturday is Adelaide’s] first home game, so you take that into consideration because of a new season they may have a bigger crowd than they usually get. Which is great, it’s always a good situation where you’re playing an opposition with a big following. That’s always a good test. 

“I think they’ll be confident from last week. I read and watched Carl [Veart’s] interview after [the Reds 1-1 draw with Perth Glory] and he was disappointed not to win, so he obviously thought they did enough to win it. 

“They have strengths, they had a few new players, obviously, Isaías coming back, so it will be a tough test. We’re fully aware of that but we’re very confident with how we stack up against Adelaide and any other team.”

Enjoying Joey’s coverage of Australian sport? Your support helps keep it possible.
You’re seeing this advert because this is an unpaid, self-published piece.

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Header Image Credit: Melbourne City

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