‘I don’t care what people think’: Kisnorbo’s change from on-field warrior to sophisticated coach

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Search the internet for an image of Patrick Kisnorbo and there's a strong chance that you will come up with a shot of the former Leeds United cult hero's muddy face, blood dripping from a dirty headband fixed around his shaved head, spattering his eyes, mouth and teeth.

As a player, he was a rugged centre-back who took no prisoners and relished confrontation and a physical challenge.

Patrick Kisnorbo (left) during his days as a rugged centre-back for Leeds.Credit:Getty Images

But it's a very different Kisnorbo who is looking to make his mark on the soccer world when he makes his debut as head coach of A-League side Melbourne City when the new season kicks off at the end of this year.

Kisnorbo says anyone who believes he lacks the sophistication to be a coach at Australia's elite level, especially for an owner whose flagship business is helmed by perhaps the most sophisticated coach of the modern era, Manchester City's Pep Guardiola, will be making a mistake.

"I don't really care what people think. I genuinely mean it, I never have and never will. Playing and coaching is completely different.

"As a footballer I was like that because our playing style was like that. Football has evolved tactically and I have evolved with it."

Kisnorbo finished playing nearly five years ago, and in that time he has been groomed and tutored through the City system. There have been trips to Manchester, exposure to different systems and philosophies and years of on-the-ground experience, learning the ropes.

Kisnorbo says he will continue on with Erick Mombaerts’ playing style.Credit:Getty Images

The ex-Socceroos defender won Australian titles as coach of City's under-20 men's team, two W-League championships with their all-conquering women and then worked under both Warren Joyce and Erick Mombaerts as senior assistant with the men's side.

It has been a lengthy process that has left him, at 39, ready for the biggest challenge in the domestic game, taking over from the French veteran Mombaerts after City reached last season's grand final.

"In coaching it's very different. You adapt because this is the way things are, this is the way the club wants to play and it's the way I believe in," he says.

In a career that started under Mickey Petersen at South Melbourne and took in Hearts in the Scottish Premier League as well as the two current Premier League clubs, Leeds and Leicester, Kisnorbo has worked with a variety of different managers.

"Craig Levein, Gary Megson, Rob Kelly, Nigel Worthington, Simon Grayson, Neil Warnock, Guus Hiddink, Pim Verbeek, Martin Allen, Ian Holloway, John van 't Schip when I was here at City as a player. You try to learn a bit from them all.

"Simon Grayson sticks out in my mind at Leeds. He knew how to man-manage the group and we played a certain way and it worked really well.

Kisnorbo has learnt from many managers he has played under, and as an assistant as part of the City set-up.Credit:Getty Images

"Ian Holloway was a fantastic man-manager when I was at Leicester but he didn't get the results along the way. It wasn't that he was tactically bad, but sometimes football doesn't give you what you deserve. Sometimes it's hard to explain why you have lost."

Holloway has three deaf daughters and Kisnorbo believes that has probably influenced the way the current Grimsby Town manager communicates – openly and directly. It is something he appreciated when he played for him at Leicester, and something he believes is vital in the player/coach relationship.

"I think he was more up-front. But it was good. I am an advocate for that, I think a manager that is honest is the best way. Sometimes it's not nice what you hear, but sometimes you respect that person more for telling the truth."

He always knew that coaching would be his career path.

"Even when I was playing I had already started my licences. I have always loved the game and always will and I wanted to stay involved."

Kisnorbo says that spending the last year under Mombaerts was a perfect end to his apprenticeship.

"Erick was the complete package. His man-management was great, tactically he was probably the best I have ever worked under.

"The characteristics of what they wanted from a footaballer, Erick and Warren [Joyce, his oft-maligned English predecessor] were the same. But as a team collective and game style, they were completely different.

"Erick wanted us to be closer to the [Manchester] City style of play [a high-pressing, fluid and possession-based approach] and he implemented that. I will continue on the same way. I believe in it, we have an identity, and nothing will change."

Most Viewed in Sport

Source: Read Full Article