Melbourne City head coach Patrick Kisnorbo says he’s not reading too much into their clash this Saturday when they take on Melbourne-based rivals Western United at AAMI Park.
Despite City being the reigning A-League Men’s champions, Kisnorbo is not phased that being last season’s champions will put a target on their back, knocking back notions that Western United, the newest Victorian club in the competition, will be out to send a statement and knock City off their perch.
“We were the champions last year, this year is completely different, everyone is [on] the same [level this season,” Kisnorbo told media on Friday.
“For me, I don’t look at it like that, I look at it like another game, another chance to improve and get better.”
Having gone through an overhaul during the offseason, Western United are a new look side who’ve shown promise in the opening two rounds of the season.
Kisnorbo acknowledged the changes United made during the offseason, and while he’s expecting a strong showing from the Western-Melbourne outfit, he is purely focused on what his side can control.
“They’ve got a new coach, a new assistant coach, they’ve recruited some good players, we know it’s going to be a tough game, but for us, it’s going to be [about] what we do and how we prepare.”
Kisnorbo also noted that despite coming up against Western United three times during the offseason, the familiarity the sides have won’t have an impact on the game, reiterating that he’s focused on what his side can do, and is not phased if United may have worked them out.
“No [it doesn’t help or hinder us], in the practice games you try a few things, even the year before we played Western United the same [amount of times],” he said.
“It was just due to circumstances, it is what it is, but for it’s focusing on the job at hand.”
After being out of the squad last week due to injury, defender Nathaniel Atkinson will be available for selection, with Kisnorbo saying both he and Stefan Colakovski who was out of the side’s FFA Cup clash against Hume City are both fit coming into the clash against Western United.
“Nate [Atkinson] was just recovering from a bit of a knock and Cola [Colakovski] was the same, so both available for tomorrow,” he said.
“We had a couple of practice games and he [Atkinson] picked up a slight injury.
“And it’s just one those things he needed a week or two, and he’s come fit to training this week and he’s fine and available for selection for tomorrow.”
The coach would also note on the side’s FFA Cup Round of 16 victory against Hume City. Kisnorbo fielded a younger side, saying it is imperative that the youth players get senior experience while saying it was important for some of the first-team regulars to make an appearance to keep match ready.
“I think first for the young kids it’s great to give them a chance and give them some playing time, some good things came out of that,” he said.
“With the more experienced players. it was just to keep them on the field and get more minutes in their legs and obviously, we rotated Curtis [Good] and Nuno [Reis] at the end, it was just to keep them going and get them ready for tomorrow’s game.”
Kisnorbo would also highlight that his younger players were selected not due to playing a weaker opposition, saying they earned their spots in the team.
“Yeah I think it’s really important especially here in Australia where you want to produce players for our local competition and hopefully one day abroad and they got to start somewhere,” he said.
“And again it’s not just because it’s a competition against an NPL team, they deserve to play and we gave them a chance, and they took which is good to see, they put themselves in that situation not because it was just a cup game against an NPL team.”
After Matthew Leckie got off the mark with his first goal in City colours in the 1-0 FFA Cup Round of 16 clash against Hume, Kisnorbo was full of praise of the Socceroos wide man, saying he’s fitting well into the side’s system.
“I think it was a great run and a great ball and it’s something that we’ve been practicing a lot,” he said.
“Lecks is new within our club so it was great to see him in the right area when the ball arrived and he scored and could have scored another one, but it’s great we created that opportunity for him.”
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