We might not know it from the outside, but life is good at Melbourne City, according to young gun Lachie Wales, and for himself.
Bruno Fornaroli’s now three-week absence from City’s matchday squads and apparent feud with coach Warren Joyce paint a disconcerting picture, and the fans made their thoughts on the matter known in protest during the club’s 3-0 home win over Newcastle Jets on Sunday.
A player of El Tuna‘s quality leaves a sizeable void to be filled and without another recognised striker in the squad, the situation looked challenging.
Up stepped Wales – a winger by trade – and the 21-year-old delivered against the Jets following a sluggish team performance versus Brisbane Roar the week prior.
Wales brilliantly turned away from Nets captain Nigel Boogaard and proceeded to burst through on goal, gracefully chipping an onrushing Glen Moss.
While not a natural position, Wales declared Joyce has simply been wishing for more of the same.
“I’m playing a slightly different role, playing No.9, but it’s still the same things the gaffer’s asking me to do,” the Terrigal product said on Thursday’s Daily Football Show.
“He wants me to run in behind and beat players one on one.
“Obviously we’ve struggled to score some goals so it’s up to the likes of me and (Riley) McGree to step up and take a few risks in that front third and provide more goalscoring opportunities for the team.”
It is all part of a new but hugely productive experience for Wales, who moved to City from Central Coast Mariners at the close of the last A-League season looking to take himself out of his comfort zone.
So far the move has paid dividends. Wales has featured in all six of City’s matches this term totalling 427 minutes, along with his debut goal and an assist.
“Those first couple of games were a different experiences for me, I’ve never played in front of that many people in a Melbourne Derby,” Wales said of his season so far.
“Then the second week going to Central Coast was a tough one for me.
“I started off a bit slower than I would have liked but the last four weeks have been good so I’ve been pretty happy personally and I feel like the team’s building towards getting some good results now.”
As for talk of a crisis – at least before the Newcastle win – well, Wales simply dismissed it.
“We don’t listen to any of it really, it’s on the social media and all on Foxtel,” he added.
“We just come in here and we know what we need to do to win games of football and everyone’s working as hard as they can to do that.
“People have asked that a million times, but it’s honestly the same answer, we’re not affected at all. If we were affected, we wouldn’t have played like that on the weekend.
“If we go and we beat Perth on the weekend we’re in second place, so no one could really say much else after that.”