After deciding not to renew Warren Joyce’s contract last season, Melbourne City have decided to go with Erick Mombaerts, a manager that is known to work with young talents as well as emphasising attacking style.
It is not too much of a surprise that City have taken the opposite direction of Joyce’s reign. They endured arguably their most uninspiring campaign in 2018-19, with sterile performances accompanied with the banishment of the iconic Bruno Fornaroli leading many fans to give up on their club.
Mombaerts and the City Football Group are familiar with one another having previously enjoyed a partnership at the part CFG-owned Yokohama F Marinos for three years, where the team finished in fifth twice and was known to favour an attacking style.
The 64-year-old is not a coach with a star-studded resume, but he ticks all the right boxes as a manager that needs to reinvigorate the City fanbase.
In the announcement, Mombaerts was keen to emphasise that he wants to play attractive football first and foremost, suggesting that the Frenchman might be acutely aware of the fanbase’s current disillusion.
His goal for this campaign will be to give the fans something to cheer about and go back to enjoying the football, rather than the bleak games supporters had to endure last season.
“The main target is to develop our style of play. The main target is really to be proud about the City style of play,” he said in his first interview with Melbourne City.
Now with a new Melbourne rival appearing in Western United, who will be keen to take some of their fanbase, it is no longer sustainable for City to be ‘not Victory’.
It is an encouraging sign that CFG are not happy to watch the team continue to wilt and have introduced a manager that can hopefully bring back the heart of the club and fans to bulk up crowd numbers in the process.
Mombaerts’ experience in coaching young talent – managing the French under-18 and under-21 teams as well as Le Havre’s famed academy – will have been an attractive prospect given City have a host of youngsters gunning for a chance.
Players like Ramy Najjarine have seen development stagnate somewhat as Joyce was reluctant to give them regular game time, even favouring to bring in foreign young talent like Shayon Harrison from Tottenham Hotspur rather than the exciting Australian prospects.
With the progression to the senior squad seemingly blocked under Joyce, some City teenagers decided to move to find game time. Dylan Pierias, Joshua Cavallo and James Delianov all joined Mark Rudan’s Western United for their first season.
It is not much use in having an excellent academy when the players are not trusted to be given crucial minutes to develop their skills. One of Mombaerts’ biggest jobs will be blooding these kids in the first team and keeping them happy, all the while pushing them to improve.
Following a disappointing sixth place last season, in which 37-year-old Eugene Galekovic was City’s best player, fans will be craving a bit more success in the league, and another FFA Cup victory to accompany their 2016 trophy wouldn’t hurt either.
On Friday, Austrian defender Richard Windbichler became the first signing of the Mombaerts era.
The FFA Cup Round of 32 draw has given City a trip to South Australia where they will face the NPL national champions Campbelltown City, in what will be Mombaerts’ first test. It will not be an easy assignment by any means, but it could set the tone for the Frenchman’s time in Melbourne.
Regardless, Mombaerts’ appointment shows the City board will not stand still and watch the club fall and although he is not a world-renowned coach, he will hopefully be able to sway fans with substance and success.