Dour, defensive and dominant: The keys to Melbourne City

New Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce has focused on functionality rather than flair, turning the side into a well-organised defensive unit

Melbourne City have had a superb start to the season. They are the only side to record four consecutive wins, including an impressive derby victory over neighbours Melbourne Victory, and conceding just one goal in the process. They have shown great improvements in their defensive solidity.

In contrast, under previous coach John van’t Schip, City were more notable for their tactical flexibility. Van’t Schip constantly changed the formation to get the best out of key players. For example, in 2016-17, with Harry Novillo and Bruno Fornaroli in devastating attacking form and Aaron Mooy emerging as Australia’s best playmaker, the coach switched to a 3-5-2 formation that freed his front three to play together upfront.

Last season, with Tim Cahill and Fornaroli to fit in, as well as Fernando Brandan and Nicolas Colazo, Van’t Schip experimented with 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 4-diamond-2 and even a 4-4-2 that became a 3-1-2-4 in possession – but the team struggled for consistency.

New coach Warren Joyce is a different kettle of fish.

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