Melbourne City assistant coach Patrick Kisnorbo is in pole position to land the club’s lead role if, as anticipated, Frenchman Erick Mombaerts departs after Sunday’s A-League grand final.
With the City Football Group closing in on the purchase of French Ligue 2 outfit Troyes AC, Mombaerts, 65, is being positioned to take charge, leaving former Leicester City and Leeds United defender Kisnorbo as the in-house option for the mantle.
Kisnorbo’s likely elevation flies in the face of persistent rumours linking Perth Glory’s Tony Popovic with the CFG-owned club, with the latter now linked with Greek club Xanthi FC.
Regardless, the hardline approach of the former Western Sydney Wanderers mentor was viewed by the City hierarchy as incompatible with playbook propagated from on high to the clubs under the CFG umbrella.
The tough guy stance didn’t bring success under Mombaerts’ predecessor Warren Joyce, and there is little appetite for it now.
Former Socceroo Kisnorbo is cut from a different cloth.
First a player, then a coach with City, Kisnorbo, 39, has spent four years cutting his teeth under Joyce and now Mombaerts, as well as leading City’s W-League team to two titles.
He said as recently as June that Mombaerts’ “knowledge is superior to anyone I’ve ever worked with”.
And he’s been a ready sponge for the former France U-21 and Paris Saint-Germain coach’s wisdom.
It’s understood family considerations are paramount for Mombaerts in deciding his future, with the CFG’s impending acquisition of a 10th club - Troyes are valued between $11.5-$16.5 million - offering a route back home.
All of which means that the season finale against Sydney FC shapes as Mombaerts’ last match in charge of the team he’s lead to their most successful season yet.
CFG were also recently linked with fellow Ligue 2 Nancy, who are valued at $21 million, but Troyes looms as a more cost-effective option.
Should he be deemed ready, Kisnorbo will be part of an A-League trend of club’s backing home-cultivated coaches, with the likes of Mark Rudan, Ufuk Talay, Jean-Paul de Marigny, and this week’s appointment of Grant Brebner by Melbourne Victory, all prime examples.
Mombaerts, meanwhile, will leave a legacy - whether City go on to win the grand final or not - of imprinting a free-flowing philosophy, backing youth and transforming City from often stultifying to sometimes electrifying.
He’s long been an ally CFG executive officer Ferran Soriano in implementing the Abu Dhabi-based football powerhouse’s football blueprints, a possession-based style formulated and finessed by Pep Guardiola at flagship club Manchester City.
CFG recently added Belgian second-tier team, SK Lommel, to a worldwide roster which also includes New York City FC, Girona, Yokohama F. Marinos, Club Atlético Torque in Uruguay, Mumbai City and China’s Sichuan Jiuniu FC.