After 10 games of the Hyundai A-League season, teams have begun to settle into their rhythm as the table begins to take shape. Melbourne City is one of the early front runners for the title and have themselves nicely placed in the early stages of the season.
Prior to the start of the season, much of the footballing headlines surrounded the arrival of the Socceroos’ all-time leading goal scorer Tim Cahill at Melbourne City.
So how big of an impact has Cahill had on the league since his debut?
The scene was set in Round 2 for Tim Cahill to make his debut in the Melbourne derby against cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory and what an impact he had. In typical Tim Cahill fashion he stepped up when it counted in one of the biggest game of his side’s season.
The former Everton man’s stunning long range volley sent City on their way to a 4-1 victory in the first derby of the season between the pair.
Cahill’s next goal would come on his homecoming against the Western Sydney Wanderers, the 37-year-old’s first professional club match in New South Wales since he left for England as a teenager.
After the first ten rounds of the competition, Cahill has gone onto making eight appearances, scoring two goals and providing another.
The most concerning thing about these statistics early on is that Cahill has only lasted the full 90 minutes once in five of the eight games he has started. Earlier this year he was left out of the Socceroos’ clash with Thailand in order to continue rehab for his injured calf, but suited up for City just days later against the Brisbane Roar which raised eyebrows among many pundits.
If the Socceroo is going to have the kind of impact we have become used to seeing, he must be given the necessary time on the sidelines to fully recover from his injuries.
The FFA Cup is where Cahill has arguably had his greatest impact for Melbourne City since arriving at the club.
Many would agree that Cahill’s greatest moment came on November 30 in the FFA Cup final against Sydney FC. In a tense and physical match, Cahill’s signature heading ability came to fruitition, as he scored the game’s sole goal to hand Melbourne City their first piece of silverware.
Overall Cahill may have not had the impact many were expecting thus far- and one of the possible reasons that has been suggested is his position within the Melbourne City team.
City boss John van’t Schip has elected to play the veteran as a deep-lying playmaker in a midfield three. During his time in England with Milwall and Everton, Cahill often found himself in an advanced midfield position.
There is no doubting Cahill’s ability in this deeper role, as he has always shown that he will give 110% no matter his position on the pitch. The deeper role allows him to bring energy and physicality to the City line-up, a major key to their form this season. But van’t Schip must seriously consider pushing his star man up the pitch if he wishes to reap the full rewards of the man that is Tim Cahill.
When it was announced Cahill was set to return home and play for City this season, Football Federation Australia could only hope his presence would help see crowd figures rise, and it is the little gestures by Cahill which are going to do so.
Not many have noticed this but Cahill is always the last to return to the sheds at the conclusion of a match. The Socceroo takes time to take photos and sign autographs for most fans in the stadium, ensuring no one is left disappointed.
This type of role model is exactly what Australian football needs. These acts of kindness will always be remembered by the fans and more players should follow the lead of Cahill to get fans back through the gates.
by Brayden May – contributor