If you are reading this on December 6, 2017, today is Socceroo legend Tim Cahill’s 38th birthday. It is also the day Cahill has quit A-League side Melbourne City to pursue his ambitions of playing at a fourth World Cup. When it comes to Cahill, it can be argued there is no one more polarising in Australian sport than Australia’s top goal scorer. He has his haters, he does a lot of talking, but when he’s in the Green and Gold he backs it up. Cahill was supposed to bring new life into a stagnant A-League, but he did manage to achieve this? Or was Tim Cahill another marquee flop?
You can’t deny he was entertaining for City in the 2016-17 season, the former Everton attacker found the net 11 times including is trademark headers and his Goal of the Season against Melbourne Victory (in case you forgot, Lawrence Thomas). He also scored the winning goal in the 2016 FFA Cup final earning City their first title.
But what else are marquee players supposed to do? Bring crowds through the gates. Before Cahill joined the club, when Bruno Fornaroli, Harry Novillo, and Aaron Mooy were setting the league alight City only had 9548 members. Last season that increased by 2565 to 12,113.
However that didn’t result in big crowds, only the Melbourne Derby brought in more than 12,000 fans to AAMI Park. Of course the 38-year-old isn’t entirely to blame though. City have consistently had poor crowds since debuting in 2010, plus fans flocked to see the 104-time Socceroo when City travelled.
This season seemed to be a bit different. His relationship with coach Warren Joyce didn’t start well. Multiple reports suggested the two barely spoke, and the English coach often overlooked the forward in FFA Cup ties and A-League fixtures. And when they did speak, Joyce described his talisman as “just another player”.
Cahill was instrumental in getting Australia to the 2018 World Cup, scoring a double against Syria to send the Socceroos to the intercontinental play-off against Honduras, but his influence in the A-League was very limited.
He failed to find the net in six matches, but he only started one and only played a combined 95 minutes. City’s memberships decreased by 2275 to 9838. City’s home crowds have only exceeded that number once, in 1-0 loss to Sydney FC. While only the Melbourne Derby drew a considerable crowd, but again, low crowd numbers certainly isn’t Timmy’s fault *coughs* FFA.
Australia’s all-time leading goal scorer signed a three-year deal with the club, two years as a player before moving into the coaching ranks next season. He’s quit the club after 10 matches into his second season with City in third place.
Obviously he wants to play at the World Cup, and if fit he should go. Despite his age he is still reliable and a key player to the national team. But what if he doesn’t find a team? What if he doesn’t find form? Does he still go to Russia? Would he be better off sticking it out at City?
Where to now? Does he stick around in the A-League? Does he go back to China, or maybe the Middle East? Is he in demand?
And where does this leave Melbourne City? Bruno Fornaroli is still out with injury and Ross McCormack hasn’t scored in open play since Boxing Day last year.
Tim Cahill is arguably the biggest signing in A-League history, but was his stint a success or a failure? We’ll let you decide.
To clarify, Tim Cahill was signed to @MelbourneCity during last transfer window so isn't now a free agent. Can join any club now but only play once that club's transfer window opens, ie Oz Jan 3. Interestingly, UAE window opens next week
— Tom Smithies (@SmithiesTele) 6 December 2017
Tim Cahill completed a full 90 minutes just six times in 33 appearances across all competitions for Melbourne City
— Vince Rugari (@VinceRugari) 5 December 2017
When you hear that Tim Cahill has agreed to leave Melbourne City… pic.twitter.com/ophDfHuEZo
— ODDSbible (@ODDSbible) 5 December 2017
Melbourne City’s average attendance before Cahill: 11,062
This year: 8,839
Money well spent #ThanksTim
— For Vuck's Sake (@ForVucksSake) 5 December 2017