A-League Men finals record on the line as Melbourne City players set sights on championship

On the eve of the A-League Men finals, Melbourne City captain Scott Jamieson says his side can become the first team to record an historic feat — winning the Premier’s Plate-championship double in back-to-back seasons.

After recording a win in their final match of the regular season, City held off Melbourne Victory by just a single point to win its second consecutive Premier’s Plate, but is eager to add more silverware.

“It’s one of those finals series this year where it’s a lot more even than maybe in the past where one or two teams have stood out,” Jamieson said.

“It doesn’t really resonate in regards to the whole back-to-back thing. We’re focused very much on what this year presents and that’s the opportunity to win the trophy.”

Jamieson said he understands why it is such a difficult feat to bring home four trophies in two seasons.

“I just think every year there’s a few clubs that aren’t satisfied and want to win it, and that’s great,” he said.

“When it comes to winning it once, it’s a massive ask but going back-to-back is certainly a big one. Sydney have done it [the championship double] but every year you’re definitely competing and every year it gets harder.”

Josh Brillante (left) and Scott Jamieson (right) are vying for the championship title after finishing in the top two of the 2022 A-League Men season.(ABC Sport: Damien Peck)

Cross-town rivals out to spoil the party

It will not be an easy task for the favourites. Along the way they have succumbed to their Victorian rivals this season, with just three points — all draws — of a possible 18.

“I know it’s a storyline, it’s a fact … each game’s been tough. Finals series changes and for us we don’t look too much on the past. If that was the case you would have heard us smashing Victory last year six and seven nil and it’s not something we look at,” Jamieson said.

With City the team to beat, cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory will be doing all they can to upset the defending champions in the finals.

It is something that captain and former City player Josh Brillante said is “an amazing feeling”.

“I feel like we’re in red-hot form leading into these finals,” Brillante said.

The club fell agonisingly short of the premiership title after a stunning run from last season’s wooden spoon to second place.

“Obviously we’re disappointed. If the season had have gone a bit longer I think we probably would’ve caught up there, but that’s just the way it is, so we’ve got to look forward to the finals now and give it everything we’ve got,” he said.

“You want to be the one holding that trophy with your team and your club.”

Six A-League Men's players stand next to the Championship trophy.
Six A-League Men clubs are in a new-look finals format in 2022.(ABC Sport: Damien Peck)

The best of the rest

Thirty-nine-year-old Western United star Alessandro Diamanti will not be playing the finals series after a season-ending knee injury.

“I feel good for the guys because I cannot play, but I feel excited for the guys because they just have to play the big stage,” the Italian said.

“They’ve had a very beautiful season, so we want to finish like we deserve and try to win the match. Why not?

“We are focused more about the people coming to enjoy the game. It’s a beautiful moment of the year.”

While Melbourne-based teams have dominated the season, Central Coast Mariners can lay claim to being the form team and sole representative from New South Wales.

“We’re representing the state but also representing Central Coast so we want to do all our community proud,” Mariners forward Matt Simon said.

“I know all our fans are looking forward to the finals series as well.

“I think it just gives the team confidence at the moment. We’re in great momentum.

Only a few months ago, the Mariners were in 11th place on the ladder, while a championship nine years ago feels like a lifetime ago.

“The mentality of the group really changed after that little period [this season]. I think we went four or five games there where we conceded a couple of late goals and made it a draw or lost a game,” Simon said.

“Once we got over that little period and got one or two results back-to-back, I think that really got the confidence going and showed we can have a good impact this year.

“I think everyone can win it. The table’s been really close. It depends on who turns up.”

Reference-www.abc.net.au

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