While it’s a date that may not be set in stone, Melbourne City captain Scott Jamieson has little qualms about declaring which finals scenario he wants to see come to fruition following this week’s final A-League round.
Though fourth place might now be out of reach after his side’s defeat against Wellington Phoenix and Adelaide United’s win over Melbourne Victory this past round, City can still theoretically finish in the fifth position on the A-League table at season’s end should they record a comfortable win over Central Coast Mariners on Friday night and Wellington suffer a heavy loss away to Perth on Sunday evening.
Such a scenario would see City travel to Adelaide in a fourth against fifth elimination game in the first week of the finals while the then sixth-placed Wellington travelled to Melbourne to take on third-placed Melbourne Victory.
Fronting the media at City’s Bundoora headquarters on Wednesday, however, the combative Jamieson, who declared himself 100% recovered from a broken toe suffered against Sydney FC on 17 March, had another potential fixture in mind.
“If I’m really honest? I want us to win well this weekend, but I want us to play Victory,” he said.
“I don’t know what people behind the scenes will say about this but I want to play Victory. The team wants to play Victory.
“Nothing against other teams but we want to go against them, knock them off and then go onto the next game.”
While the FFA may certainly salivate at the metrics boost that a Melbourne Derby would deliver in the first week of the finals, there’s also a good reason for Jamieson and his City teammates to fancy their chances against their navy-blue crosstown rivals.
In contrast to their patchy interstate form, City has only lost once all season in Melbourne – a 3-0 defeat against Sydney FC in round three – and has recorded two 1-1 draws and a 2-1 win over Victory during the campaign.
Betwixt snorts of derision at their less successful rivals, even the most ardent of Victory supporters would be forced to admit that City tends to take their play to another level when the two sides clash; something also alluded to by Jamieson on Wednesday.
“I believe that they’re a team that brings out the best in us,” he explained.
“I think we match up really well against them.
“I think the best way to answer the critics is to take on the previous champions. Take them on and do really well and go from there.
“That’s the main thing, I want to face… I don’t mind who I face, but in saying that I do want to play Victory.
“They’re the champions, they’re our biggest rivals, it’s something for our fans to get excited about so that’s what I want.”
City’s fans have had relatively little to get truly excited about in 2018/19, with City, should they indeed finish in the sixth position, set to record their lowest finish on the A-League table since the club – then known as Melbourne Heart – finished bottom in 2013-14.
The long-running Bruno Fornaroli saga and complaints about City’s playing style have only served to exacerbate frustrations and led to an average crowd size of 8,399.
“I think our fans would take a win in any finals game,” Jamieson said.
“But if it was against your biggest rivals and against a team that they want to beat the most it would go a long way (in restoring City fans spirit).
“We’ve openly said in regard to our fans that, in the past, we have let them down in terms of connections.
“I definitely will say as a football club and as a playing group, we’ve really made a noted effort in the past month to two months of really being out there and trying to engage with our fans.
“Hopefully, they can see that and hopefully it’s a point of looking forward to the future of this club.
“Managers will come and go, players will come or go but this football club will stay.
“So, whether we’re winning or losing we need them to be a part of it. It started two months ago as a noted point for us but this week it’s important for them to try and get down with us.”