Erick Mombaerts fronted journalists in an online press conference earlier this afternoon and provided insight into the team’s preparation ahead of its big clash with Adelaide United on Tuesday night.
The fitness of the squad was the first topic on the agenda, with the City manager confirming that the squad was in good health with no injury setbacks to speak of. Mombaerts also told journalists that Rostyn Griffiths has participated in two training sessions since returning from his period of self-isolation.
With the absence of Scott Jamieson a prominent headline leading into the fixture against Adelaide, Mombaerts didn’t give a clear indication of who was likely to get the nod at left wing-back, but said, “We have two options to play there, Scott Galloway and Nathaniel Atkinson. Both have practiced in that role.”
The Frenchman was also unsure of when Jamieson would next feature for the team, and when asked about the club captain returning for the final game of the regular season against Western United gave his honest thoughts:
“I don’t know if it’s possible,” he said, referencing the fact that the player would need to undergo a 14-day self-isolation period just as Griffiths did.
Mombaerts has been pleased with the intensity and quality he’s seen on the training pitch and in City’s return to play against Sydney FC:
“With this style of play, we can get results in the A-League or in other countries,” he says, referencing the potential of the club's involvement for the next iteration of the Asian Champions League (second place in the A-League is a ‘half-spot’, with a qualifying round standing in the way of a proper ACL berth).
Part of the side’s impressive performance he attributes to the ‘cup football’ mentality that has been instilled amongst the players and coaching staff since the restart.
“The first thing I said to the players was that it’s a tournament,” Mombaerts said of City’s remaining fixtures, “And I confirm that now (having actually played a game).”
The focus then switched to this week’s opposition, with the Frenchman impressed by the Reds’ unbeaten record since the season recommencement. Asked whether he noted any differences between the pre- and post-lockdown Adelaide, especially considering they’ve now got a new interim manager at the helm, Mombaerts noted that he was able to observe "less man-marking and more mixed defensive organisation.”
The City manager affirmed that transition moments would be the most crucial determinant in the game and admitted that whilst Adelaide are strong on the break, City can nullify that threat if they “keep possession; that’s our style of play. That and we will need to be well-organised on turnovers.”
Whilst the Frenchman’s responses told the usual story of a manager fixated only on his next fixture, some of the questions he fielded were certainly predicated on bigger and better things for the club, from the 2019/20 Finals series to the club’s achievement of an ACL qualifying fixture.
Whilst Mombaerts acknowledged the significance of the club’s highest-ever finish, he’s not patting himself on the back just yet.
“The most important thing is to achieve our goals,” the Frenchman says, ambiguously listing some of those goals as, “Winning something and improving our table finish.”
“We want to progress as a club, that’s most important.”
And for those curious about the situation back home for our beloved captain, Mombaerts says he’s not heard any news of a Jamieson baby just yet.
“Maybe today,” the Frenchman says cheerfully.