Be proud, learn, come back stronger: Mombaerts' post-match message to hurting City squad
Erick Mombaerts says he kept his message simple in the moments following Melbourne City's heartbreaking Grand Final loss to Sydney FC: learn from the test, and come back all the better for it.
City's 1-0 loss to the Sky Blues in the club's first Grand Final handed Sydney a record fifth Hyundai A-League Championship.
As their opponents stepped up to the podium to lift yet another piece of silverware the City players, staff and fans alike endured the bitterness of Grand Final defeat for the very first time.
But in his post-match press conference City Head Coach Mombaerts refused to buckle under the disappointment of the slender 1-0 defeat, preferring instead to highlight the valuable lessons the club could take from an evening at Bankwest Stadium which won't soon be forgotten.
"My words were simple: I’m very proud and I congratulate [them] for their effort, and also the quality of play all season and especially this game," Mombaerts said.
"It was a test, it was a great test today.
"We showed that we can play our style, so we have to be proud about this.
I’ve said to our players: be proud and learn about this, and have the motivation to come back stronger."
Despite coming into their first appearance on the Hyundai A-League's biggest stage City showed no sign of being strangers to the occasion as they threw plenty of punches in a back-and-forth contest.
Scenes of elation ensued when Harrison Delbridge fired City into an early lead but VAR disallowed the strike to put Sydney FC back on level terms, with Lachie Wales adjudged to have obstructed the view of Andrew Redmayne from an offside position as the ball rifled into the back of the net.
It proved the closest City came to winning the contest as Sydney grew into the game in the second half and pushed for a winner, eventually scored by Rhyan Grant in the first half of extra time.
From the defeat, however, grew a star in City goalkeeper Tom Glover who kept the Sky Blues goalless throughout 90 minutes and forcing extra time, pulling off an array of impressive blocks in the process.
"Tom especially at the end of the game, yes he did well," Mombaerts said in his post-match dissection.
"But I think all players did well today, I don’t want to focus on one.
"Yes, in the first half he has not too many things to do but in this kind of game in extra time you need to do some saves, he has done [it].
"It’s good for the future, he has great potential, he will improve also his level I’m sure, I’m certain."
GRAND FINAL REPORT: Sydney FC 1-0 Melbourne City
GRAND FINAL REACTION: Corica hails relentless Grant after Grand Final Winner
City's enduring ambition for success has often contributed to the disappointment felt at each of the club's shortcomings throughout their Hyundai A-League history.
Never before had the club with so much promise made it into the top two by the season's end, and never before had they capitalised on a best-ever points tally by pushing deep into the Finals Series.
But under Mombaerts' watch and with Maclaren's goals to guide them City took a step forward throughout the 2019/20 campaign to banish their past disappointment, making it all the way to the Grand Final to produce a performance against the Premiers which the club can be proud of from top to bottom.
It's a facet of City's stereotype defying season which Mombaerts says proves they are not far off where they want to be.
"We showed this year that we can setup an offensive style of play, we are the best team with Sydney [in] attacking, we have the best scorer [Jamie Maclaren], and I’m very proud about this.
"Because when I came it was my main goal to setup this, so when you achieve your main goal it’s for me the best.
"Yes I wanted to win this trophy, but okay, we have increased a lot, it’s one step and maybe next [year a] step after.
"Sydney FC have great experience... they have some players that can make the difference.
"Congratulations also to Sydney FC, they win the Championship, they win Grand Final, so we have to respect.
"But we showed we are not so far now, we are not so far.
We are close to their level with another style... I’m sure in the future we will challenge more."
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