New Melbourne City Head Coach Erick Mombaerts says that he is pleased with his side’s progress ahead of his competitive City debut in tomorrow night’s FFA Cup clash with NPL SA side Campbelltown City SC.
Mombaerts was appointed at the Bundoora based club in late June as a replacement for former Head Coach Warren Joyce, who departed City after a fifth-placed finish and opening finals round defeat to Adelaide United in the 2018-19 A-League season.
The Frenchman immediately promised a complete change in the way that the 2016 FFA Cup Champions played upon his arrival; emphasising his desire to put in place a style more befitting of a club that shares an ownership group with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Ange Postecoglou’s Yokohama F Marinos.
Prior to flying out with his side to Adelaide later today, the 64-year-old City boss – who had his first non-competitive hit out against NPL Victoria side Oakleigh Cannons – said that he was pleased with the progress he was making in implementing his new system.
“I’m very happy with the attitude of the players in learning the difficult game principles,” he said.
“I’m very happy with their attitude and understanding also. They try to understand, and they do well. Every session we have a positive review of what we have done on the field.
“But it takes time to have a complete style because it’s difficult. At the moment, I’m happy with the level of the team.
“The feedback (from the Oakleigh contest) was positive but they knew also that we have to improve some specific phases, especially defensive transition. We were not effective in this phase.
“We need also to improve our mental strength because we played well in the first half but we started very bad in the second half. So we need to be stronger mentally. It’s important to improve tactically but also mentally.”
Wednesday night’s fixture against Campbelltown – who qualified for the FFA Cup’s Round of 32 after winning the 2018 NPL National Championship –will serve as an opportunity for the new signings at City such as Austrian defender Richard Windbichler, English winger Craig Noone and Uruguayan pair Adrian Luna and Javier Cabrera to feature in a first competitive fixture for the club.
The group featured, with all but Luna starting, in the friendly played against Oakleigh last week.
On Tuesday, Mombaerts said that whilst all his foreign players would be available to play against a Campbelltown side that sits atop the NPL SA standings after 19 rounds, not all start.
“We have no players injured,” he explained.
“All the players are available. Adrian Luna is not at the top level physically because he’s had only a few sessions with us but he’s getting better. We worked a lot physically in the last few days to be ready for this first game.
“(Luna’s) not starting but he can come in during the game.
“Noone and Cabrera will start tomorrow. They are understanding well, what we want to set up on the field about the wingers. It’s special. Their physical level has increased and also their understanding of our game principles.”
City’s meeting with Campbelltown City will serve as one of five Round of 32 fixtures tomorrow night. A-League side Central Coast Mariners will travel north up the New South Wales coast to take on NPL NNSW side Maitland FC and Victorian side Hume City will head to Canberra to take on Tigers FC. Three former NSL sides will also be in action, with St George FC – the former home of Johnny Warren – taking on Sydney United and Marconi making the trip to Tasmania to take on South Hobart.