Throughout the team’s history, Melbourne Heart/City have always struggled scoring and finding a potent frontline. The likes of Josh Kennedy, Harry Kewell, Josip Tadic and Michael Mifsud are sure to make City fans cringe, as neither of those players was able to provide the goal scoring power they were brought in for.
Although, City entered the 2015/16 season with the potential for change, as optimism was spread throughout the club that the frontline of Harry Novillo, Aaron Mooy, David Williams Stefan Mauk and new signings Bruno Fornaroli, Corey Gameiro, Steve Kuzmanovski and Stefan Zinni could finally be the group that turns City’s scoring troubles around.
Well, that pre-season optimism has turned into mid-season brilliance, as Melbourne have been the A-League’s best attacking team at the season’s quarter mark.
After nine games, City lead the entire league in goals scored with 23, a mark that is miles ahead of the rest of the league. Four teams: the Brisbane Roar, Melbourne Victory, Wellington Phoenix and Western Sydney Wanders are all tied second for goals scored with 14. Here is an indication of City’s goal scoring dominance this season- if City don’t score for their next nine games and the teams who are second score just one goal a game for their next nine, they would only tie Melbourne for first in goals scored, a truly incredible statistic.
City also lead the league in total shots (129), goal conversion (21%) and assists (18), which is yet another indication of how good this attacking line for Melbourne has been. City has been criticised in the past for attempting to walk the ball into the net and try and find the perfect goal but that hasn’t been the case this season. Melbourne is spreading defences out when they attack and the passes have been crisp and sharp, with the shots being just as good. When City gets a team on the counter attack, look out, as the team is also one of the leagues most potent in cross accuracy (22.2%) and pass accuracy (77.3%.)
Brisbane hold the all-time A-League record for most goals scored in a season with 58, which came in their 2010/11 championship-winning season, which is truly an incredible number, as 58 goals in 30 goals isn’t something to scruff at. As good as that record is, City are on pace to smash it in less games.
If you spilt the A-League season into three parts- the first nine games, the middle nine games and the last nine games, it can give a nice projection of how many goals City could score. They scored 23 in their first nine, so the simplest prediction would be to project they score 23 in the middle nine and 23 again in the last nine. If that occurs, Melbourne would finish the season with 69 goals, an amazing number that destroy Brisbane’s mark of 58.
We can look at this from another way as well. City is averaging 2.5 goals per game this season, which includes a zero-goal stinker against the Wanders back in round six. If Melbourne were able to maintain that 2.5-goal average per game over their final 18 games, it would give them 45 goals in 18 games. Add their current 23 goals onto the projected 45 and it gives them 68 total goals for the season, which would once again make the Roar’s 58 goals look pedestrian.
City are also on pace to break some club records in relation to goals scored. Since their formation, City have never been able to score goals at the rapid pace they currently are. In their first season, Melbourne managed only 30 goals and the numbers for the seasons after that- 35, 31, 36, 36- aren’t numbers that jump off the page. The aforementioned goal predictions for this season though, which is around the 60-odd mark, would absolutely shatter the previous club records.
While it has been a team effort to turn City into a goal scoring machine, one man deserves a lot of the credit and that is Fornaroli, who himself is on pace to break some individual A-League records this season. Fornaroli has already scored seven goals in nine games, which ties the number of goals Tadic, Mifsud and Kennedy scored combined in 48 appearances.
If we use the same projections for Fornaroli’s goals scored this season as we did for City’s goals scored, the Uruguayan would finish with 21 goals scored this season. That would break the record for most goals scored by a player in one season in Heart/City history, which is 12 set by Williams back in the 2013/14 season. It would also break the all-time A-League record for most goals scored by a player in a single season, which is a record shared by Shane Smeltz and Besart Berisha, who have both managed to score 19 goals in a single season.
City has completely changed their identity this season and has turned into a goal-scoring machine. After years of struggling to find any goal scoring consistently, both as a team and from an individual player, Melbourne seemingly have discovered the magic formula for putting the ball into the back of the net this season and if they continue to score at this rapid pace, they will break multiple A-League records.