Melbourne City marquee Jamie Maclaren says his teammates want to know who’s coaching the A-League club next season but have to put aside uncertainty over Warren Joyce’s future as they gear up for the finals.
He’s also appealed to the club’s stay-away fans to jump on for the final month of the season to create something special. City have three home fixtures in their last four regular-season rounds, beginning with the visit of Maclaren’s former side Brisbane to AAMI Park on Friday night.
But the talk around sixth-placed City isn’t about how they might do in May. It’s about who might come in to replace Joyce at season’s end.
The Englishman, who steered City to a semifinal exit last season, is out of contract at the end of the campaign. A Herald Sun report has Joyce in the mix to coach Wellington next season if, as expected, Mark Rudan leaves the Phoenix to coach expansion club Western United.
Maclaren addressed the looming changes on Wednesday.
“Players want to know who’s in charge,” he said. “But at the end of the day, the manager comes in with a smile on his face.
“For us, there are players off-contract as well; it’s not just the manager. Some players don’t even know where they are going to be. We all need to be on the same train … to get to finals.
“When you get into finals, whoever turns up on the night gets through. You need to focus. All the boys out there are giving their all, and that’s all I can say.”
Maclaren’s honesty extended to City’s fans, who have protested Joyce’s tenure in recent weeks. While City are on a nine-match unbeaten home run, the past three matches at AAMI Park have yielded less than 20,000 fans in total.
Maclaren acknowledged unease in the stands but said it was time to come together.
“Right now we need the support,” he said. “As much as there’s a bit of animosity at the moment, we need them. It’s as simple as that.”
The Socceroos striker missed City’s last match, a 3-0 loss at Western Sydney, with concussion but is fit to resume on Friday night. He revealed the cause was a stray shot from teammate Kearyn Baccus on the training ground.
“We were having a bit of a joke, saying he should never shoot again,” Maclaren said. “It hit me clean in the temple and I was out for about three minutes. It was a freak accident.
“I’ve been hit harder in the head before and been fine. … I’m raring to go for Friday.”