Mistakes are inevitable in football and Melbourne City captain Michael Jakobsen acknowledges they will always happen.
What angers him is avoidable blunders; stupid mistakes borne from a lack of concentration or thoughtlessness.
And while he is happy to spend the festive season with Danish family friends who are visiting Australia, the memory of City’s past two matches – defeats to Sydney FC and in the Christmas derby to Melbourne Victory – meant it was not as merry a Christmas as it might have been.
Jakobsen includes himself in the criticism for those losses, with goals that all came from set pieces (one free kick and two penalties), saying that City players have to maintain focus for 90 minutes if they want to avoid making errors that have such a costly effect.
“We need to concentrate more, get back to basics and eliminate the silly errors otherwise we can forget about finishing high up the table,” he said.
City performed well against the Sydney in NSW, having taken a first-half lead only to be undone by two goals just before the interval, one from a free kick, the other from a penalty.
They lost to Victory in similar fashion, going down to a last-gasp spot kick converted by Mark Milligan after goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis upended the Socceroo midfielder. That the free kick – conceded in a dangerous position in the fourth minute of extra time – was given away by City annoyed Jakobsen.
“Mistakes are going to happen. It’s football. But these were silly mistakes. We spoke before the Sydney game and the Victory game about not giving away free kicks around the box and in the penalty area.”
Despite the recent losses, Jakobsen is pleased with the first half of the season under new coach Warren Joyce.
City are third on the ladder – albeit a respectable distance behind leaders Sydney and second-placed Newcastle – and despite the derby defeat remain in front of Victory.
“We are in a pretty good position,” Jakobsen said. “We know what we can do when we get things right. But we need to be more consistent if we are to progress.
“The Sydney game irritated me. It was a tight match and we set a good standard against the champion team and exposed some weaknesses, but then we made those avoidable mistakes.
“Against Victory we started too slowly. All credit to Victory for the way they came out and pressed us from the first whistle. They are hard to shut down when they play at a high pressure like that from the start and they were better in the first half.
“But we changed our game plan in the second and I think we created many chances and neither side would have been upset had that game ended in a draw.”
Western Sydney Wanderers loom as City’s next opponents, and the Josep Gombau-coached side are shaping as the A-League’s crisis team, having suffered heavy losses to Sydney and Newcastle in recent games as the players struggle to adapt to the new style their Spanish coach is seeking to impose.
“We need to get back to doing what we did at the start of the season (when City won their first four games) and we need to take three points in this game<” Jakobsen said.
“Wanderers are having a difficult run so it could all depend on the start. If we can get at them early and get an early lead then their heads might drop a bit . But if they get off to a good start we have to be careful, as they have quality players that can hurt you.”
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