Mombaerts draws from Guardiola's 'laboratory' to build new City
Erick Mombaerts was well aware of the remit to overhaul Melbourne City’s playing style when he was appointed as the club’s new coach in June.
While City have been consistently in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series in recent seasons, they’ve achieved that with a focus more on substance over style.
But Mombaerts has been tasked with delivering success to the club – and doing it in an eye-catching and swashbuckling fashion.
The size of the challenge is not lost on the Frenchman but if anyone has the know-how and savvy to deliver on the club’s wishes, it’s the 64-year-old mentor.
Mombaerts’ coaching resume is as impressive as it is vast and spans more than three decades at the top level.
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He has spent time at French giants Paris Saint Germain, six years at the helm of the French U/18-U/21 teams as well as coaching Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan.
It’s an impressive body of work that should have City fans – and players alike – excited about what he will bring to the club ahead of the 2019/20 Season.
“It will be an offensive style and possession-based, to create opportunities and good penetration for us,” Mombaerts explains to a-league.com.au.
“It’s important in the future that all of the group has this identity, so it’s important to start with the first team but also influence in the academy also.
“And to bring in new young Australian players at this level. We have good young players and maybe some of them will start in the A-League this season.
“I trust in them, they have to improve but certainly they make a lot of effort to do this and understand our style of play.”
City’s emerging crop of talented youngsters should certainly be hanging off Mombaerts’ every word.
As well as his front line managerial experience, the Chantecoq-born coach is a professor of the game.
Mombaerts was charged with developing both a tactical and strategic game plan for the other clubs in the City Football Group, which includes the likes of Manchester City, New York City and Yokohama.
And it’s in that role where he spent time with Barcelona legend and current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola. Mombaerts hopes to emulate the style of the reigning Premier League champions.
“I did not expect too much time with Pep because he is so busy, but I am influenced by his style of play,” Mombaerts said.
“Before Pep arrived the City style of play was settled, but it takes a next step with the arrival of Pep Guardiola.
“It’s more now a new education about the style of play because Manchester City is a laboratory for us.
“What they are doing is so amazing and so fantastic about sporting performance, so it’s helped us also to have good ideas, a new vision about the game.”
At the forefront of that vision is Mombaerts’ quest to help develop and nurture some of Australia’s brightest young stars.
The likes of Connor Metcalfe, Lachlan Wales, Denis Genreau, Nathanial Atkinson, Moudi Najjar and Ramy Najjarine have all featured significantly during pre-season.
The new boss has also added some quality experience to his squad, including the likes of Joshua Brillante, Craig Noone, Richard Windbichler and Uruguayan duo Javier Cabrera and Adrian Luna.
“All of the players want to play this style of play because we want to have possession, we want to have the ball at all times, so that’s amazing for all players,” Mombaerts explains.
“It is true that the young players are hungry about football and they want to improve their level, and the best way to improve their level is to have the ball and improve with the ball.
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“I think it’s very important for us… we have a lot of young players who can help our team to improve.
“I think the first one is Connor (Metcalfe), who for me has good potential, very good potential.”
While City won an FFA Cup crown in 2016, it’s Hyundai A-League success the club really craves.
“My first target is style and to win with this offensive style but also to challenge the best teams of the A-League,” Mombaert said when asked to predict how City would fare in 2019/20.
“It’s [City’s goal] really to challenge the best team, and we will see our level. The next step after is to be at the top, but we’ll see against the best team of the A-League. I hope in the future we will be the best team of the A-League.
“We try to set up and to play this style for the fans, to make them happy and proud of this style of play. We know that the style of play is important but also to win, our way is to win with our style of play.
“We have to combine both offensive style of play, amazing style of play, but we also have to win. If we do this, yes I hope we can have more fans to support our team.”