Cahill opens up on City exit
UPDATE: Tim Cahill says it was a "tough call" to leave Melbourne City.
But the Socceroos superstar said there was a clear indication early in pre-season that he might not have been a part of new coach Warren Joyce's plans.
Speaking publicly for the first time since Wednesday's bombshell that he was leaving City, Cahill said September's FFA Cup quarter final against Sydney FC gave him the first inkling that things may not have been working out for him in this pre-World Cup year.
City was without injured striker Bruno Fornaroli at a time prior to Ross McCormack's recruitment.
But rather than play a fit Cahill as the No.9, Cahill started on the bench in the 2-0 loss.
"You can see early in the season, you play the FFA Cup, there's no striker," Cahill said on Fox Sports News.
"I travelled with the national team, I come back and I sit on the bench.
"For me it's about moving on, and quickly, and dealing with it. I didn't fit, and that's fine and you've got to accept that."
Earlier in the day Joyce stubbornly declined to expand on any questions regarding Cahill's departure after fronting the media for the first time since the news broke on Wednesday.
Clearly uncomfortable at the line of questioning at City's Bundoora headquarters, Joyce batted away 12 different questions about the Cahill saga in a stonewalling performance that could have the avid cricket fan in line for a call-up to next week's third Ashes Test in Perth.
Cahill first flagged that he may leave City in the minutes after Australia defeated Honduras in last month's World Cup qualifying playoff, as he wanted to get more game time to ensure he was on the plane to Russia.
The 38-year-old said he played "68-72 per cent of games" last season and insisted he needed to hit similar targets this season to ensure he was in the best possible shape for national team duty.
"This year my goal was to play 70 per cent of the games," Cahill said.
"And when you know you can't reach that, and there's 18 games left, when you know that time's ticking and you know that there's a six weeks leading into the World Cup that there's an off period, when you have all these things, it's nothing to do about financials, nothing to do with the club.
"In my career, at 38 years old, you've got to count your games. It's ticking away."
Subsequent reports suggested the Cahill-Joyce relationship was irreparably damaged, but Joyce would not confirm or deny whether that was the case.
"Tim's no longer a member of this football club, I'm here to talk about the players for this weekend," Joyce said.
"I think everything I've already said in the statement, I've said my feelings about Tim and Tim's made a statement about myself and the club as well.
"So I think you've already got that."
Asked if this week's turn of events surprised him, Joyce said: "Whether it did or not, everything's already been said and you're just looking now to prepare for another game coming up."
Joyce also refused to say what he had said to his remaining players about Cahill's departure.
The former Manchester United youth coach confirmed he had spoken to Cahill before Wednesday's announcement was made, but would not divulge further details.
And despite this news coming in what had already been a tumultuous period for the club, Joyce said he did not see Cahill's departure as a vote in confidence from the club in his management.
The one time Joyce did stray from the "no comment" zone was when he said: "I would like to go on record and wish him all the best because the World Cup is coming up and to get to that, play in four World Cups ... would be a fantastic achievement."
And the City boss was also adamant the saga would not be a distraction for his team ahead of Sunday's clash with Central Coast at AAMI Park.
"There are a lot of good professionals there who just want to be better every day and they've been like that since the first day I met them," he said.
"The response in the training is good. We've had plenty of things that have not gone smooth for us so far this season where you've got to show your metal."