Whilst it may have ended in a heartbreaking Grand Final defeat at the hands of the Western Sydney Wanderers, there is no doubt that the 2017/18 Y-League season was a successful one for Melbourne City.
In conjunction with making the Y-League Grand Final for the second successive year, the season also saw several players make the leap from youth to senior football.
Four players that started in City’s Round 1 Y-League win over the Brisbane Roar; Daniel Arzani, Nathaniel Atkinson, Denis Genreau and Connor Metcalfe, all subsequently went on to appear for Warren Joyce’s senior side.
It’s these promotions that City's Head of Academy Joe Palatsides takes the most satisfaction from, explaining that it is these elevations to the senior squad and not necessarily results on the park, that he and his coaching staff are striving for:
“Our goal is completely different; the coach’s goals are completely different in terms of individual development of each player in the squad and ultimately getting them into A-League football,” Palatsides explains
“Not many people would have expected Nathaniel Atkinson to play A-League football this season and I think he’s a great success story coming out of Tasmania.
“Connor Metcalfe, who we all thought was a very good young player who was just going through some injury concerns early on, ended debuting and he’s going to be a good player in the future
“Daniel Arzani, we’ve always seen him as an A-League player, but he spent a lot of time with our youth boys getting better.”
“Denis Genreau hasn’t played much yet this year but is a very good player”
As well as these players that have made their A-League debuts, Palatsides says that the development he witnessed from of his side may indicate that City’s A-League side can expect more reinforcements soon:
“You look at all the other players around the squad,” he said
“You’ve got the Josh Cavallo’s and the Lucas Portelli’s, all the other boys that are scholarship players and the good young players, the Lesiotis’, they’re all hovering around the [A-League] squad.
“We’ve got a lot of good young talented players and we’re hoping that there’s going to be a few more making an A-League appearance.
The conclusion of the Y-League season now sees the focus of the staff at the City Football Academy turn to the NPL.
City’s academy will once again have a team in the senior NPL competition, with the club set to compete in the NPL2 Eastern Conference.
It is a league that Palatsides’ side found some success in last season, seeing off a late season charge from the Goulburn Valley Suns to finish in third place behind the Dandenong Thunder and Dandenong City.
The more physical playstyle of the NPL presents an important developmental challenge for City’s prospects; with the chance to play in a senior men's competition.
Nathaniel Atkinson in particular improved substantially in the competition last season, the young Tasmanian nailing down a place in the starting side with standout performances against the likes of Richmond SC and Northcote City before impressing the newly arrived Warren Joyce late in the season.
Beyond this participation in the NPL senior competition, City will also have a team in the NPL2 Eastern Conference U20 competition, with Palatsides excited about the next generation of players that City fans will be able to see run out:
“Young [Tristian] Patsiotis has done really well this year,” Palatsides said
“He’s not physically ready for the A-League but lately he’s been taken up to the A-league squad [for training] and he’s done very well, he’s going to be one for the future.
“Luke Duzel is another one that made his NYL debut and performed well so we’re thinking those two are going to good for us
“That 2002 group that [U20 Head Coach] Petr Kratky has in the 20s; Dalibor Markovic, Jordan Bos, Nick Theodosiou, Giovanni Stellitano, they’re all national team players.
“That’s the next wave of what we consider a very exciting bunch of young players coming through
“So, anyone that gets a chance to go and see the 20's will see some exciting young footballers."
With the City Football Academy constantly growing, 2018 will also present a first for the club.
City’s academy will not only enter teams into senior and U20 NPL competitions, but will also debut teams comprised of some of the best young talent in the NPLs U18 and U15 competitions.
The U18 coach will be a name that will be familiar one to City fans, with Davey van't Schip, son of former Melbourne City Head Coach John van't Schip, taking the side’s reins.
van't Schip, already a prolific striker at the highest NPL level with Pascoe Vale, has previously worked within the City Football Academy as an assistant as he completed his coaching certificates in preparation for his first coaching opportunity while Simon Zappia takes the reigns with the U15 side.
Melbourne City’s Senior and U20 NPL sides will commence their seasons with a trip away to Nunawading City next Sunday, with the U18s and U15s heading to face the Eastern Lions at Gardiners Creek Reserve.
Melbourne City NPL Squad: LIAM KENNEDY, JAMES DELIANOV, MITCHELL GRAHAM , LUCAS PORTELLI, AIDEN FARQHUAR, YASIN NUR, MARK KARLIC, DYLAN PERIAS, SEBASTIAN KIS, ANTHONY LESIOTIS, TRISTAN PATSIOTIS, CONNOR METCALFE, DENIS GENREAU, JOSH CAVALLO, LUKE DUZEL, YUSEF AHMED, MARKO DELIC, ZAC BATES, GIANLUCA IANNUCCI, MOUDI NAJJAR, JESSE MATTHEWS, NICHOLAS THEODOSIOU, IDRUS ABDULAH
Melbourne City U20 NPL Squad: DANIEL SMITH, AHMED TALEB, KRISTIAN BOMBACI, BEN PIERIAS, BILLY SKLIROS, JADE WARING, DALIBOR MARKOVIC, GREG ZACHARIAS, ANTHONY D’AMBROSIO, HARRY POLITIDIS, JOSH VARGA, LUCA TAVERE, JORDAN BOS, DENNIS MENELAOU, GEORGE GERONDARAS, GIOVANNI STELLATANO, SAM MORRISON, YAYA DUKULY
Melbourne City U18s NPL Squad: DARCY ANASTOVSKI, RAFAELE BORGES REDRIGUES, MAXWELL BRANOV, LUCAS BYRNS, ADAM EL HAYEK, LIAM FARRUGIA, DOMENIC FOLINO, MATHEW GRIMALDI, ZAC KOCANKOVSKI, ALEX KONDOLEON, THOMAS LAMBIRIS, DANIEL LUCENTE, LIKE ORESTI, JAKE PARISH, EMILE PEIOS, THOMAS PISANI, JOSH RACHELE, MERT TUNA, JORDI VALADON
Melbourne City U15s NPL Squad: DANTE AVAIN, UROS BABOVIC, ALEX BECVINOVSKI, KASEY BOS, RHYS BOZINOVSKI, MAX CAPUTO, LAWRENCE CARRUSO, GIORDANO GIACOMANTONIO, ETHAN GOULDING, OSCAR KARAMOSHOS, ALEX MENELAOU, SAM MUMFORD, JUSTIN PAOLILLO, GIORGIO SERDENES, CHARBEL SHAMOON, LUCAS SMARAGDIOU, ADRIAN TAIRI, ZAC TAWEEL, MEHMET UYSAL, KAI WENZEL