Melbourne City have fast-tracked their coaching succession plan, installing former club captain Patrick Kisnorbo as the man to catapult them to new heights after releasing coach Erick Mombaerts on compassionate grounds.
Mombaerts delivered City’s best-ever results in his one season at the helm of the A-League’s richest club, achieving their highest ever regular season finish and a maiden grand final berth while piloting them to Asian Champions League football for the first time.
But the COVID-19 crisis, and being removed from his family during such a difficult time, hit the Frenchman hard and he’s been allowed to return to Europe just one year into a three-year contract.
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In his place will be Kisnorbo, Mombaerts’ right-hand man this year and a respected figure at the club where he played 76 games at the back end of a decorated career.
In addition to being an influential figure at one of the competition’s expansion teams, the former Socceroo has served a four-year apprenticeship under Mombaerts and Warren Joyce as well as coaching the club’s W-League and youth teams.
In Kisnorbo, City believe they have the perfect candidate to build on the foundations set by Mombaerts – and a man who can take them to the next level of success, with goals of premierships and championships in the years to come.
“We are incredibly grateful for all that Erick has achieved and for the mentorship he has provided to Patrick,” CEO Brad Rowse said in a statement.
“What we have achieved on the pitch in the last season with Erick at the helm has been a source of great pride, and he is loved by fans, staff and players.
“Patrick has been part of this club for more than seven years and steps into this role at an incredibly important and exciting time for Melbourne City. All eyes are on next season and we are all ready to get to work to build on the achievements of this season.”
In the lead-up to Sunday’s grand final loss, City’s Director of Football Michael Petrillo told News Corp Kisnorbo was the vocal yin to Mombaerts’ quiet yang – and had played an enormous role in the club’s success this year.
It was clear within the club that a head coaching role was in his future.
“No doubt. That’s why we’ve taken him on this journey,” Petrillo told News Corp.
“He’s a lot louder than Erick… he’s able to get in and talk to the players on another level. He’s learned so much from Erick in terms of our playing style and methodology as well.
“He’s got a great work ethic which compliments what Erick’s about. He’s always the first one in the offices and one of the last ones to leave.
“He’s got a good relationship with the players, not long having stopped playing himself, especially the younger ones. He likes to spend a lot of time talking to them on their level.
“Erick’s more quietly spoken with a calm demeanour, Patrick is a bit more outgoing and likes to get stuck in at times. They complement each other really well.”
Mombaerts will now return to France, where he’s tipped to link up with French Ligue 2 outfit Troyes AC.
“I am sad to leave Melbourne City in these circumstances, but I am so very proud of the players and what the club has achieved during my time here,” he said.
“We have reached some incredible milestones, we have implemented an exciting way to play, and we have become a true family, playing together every week for our fans, and I have no doubt that Patrick will continue this work. The team is in safe hands under his leadership.
“I have had a fantastic experience in Melbourne and I will always remember my time here with much fondness, but I have been away from my family for a long time and now I must return to care for them in France.”
City will return to training for the upcoming A-League season on October 5