In his 12 months at the club the now 65-year-old has refined the squad and its playing style and worked hard to instil the competitive mentality required to push for the ultimate rewards.
City came up just short of that against Sydney in a game in which they looked the better side for long periods, especially in a first half where they had a crucial early Harrison Delbridge goal ruled out on the say so of the VAR officials.
But throughout the season they had been one of the few teams who looked as though they could match it with the champions. Under Mombaerts they achieved their best ever league placing – second – their highest points haul and reached the final of the FFA Cup as well as qualified for the Asian Champions League.
If Mombaerts does depart his choice of successor will be critical, and if City are as keen to develop coaches as players it could be the chance for Kisnorbo, a former club captain who has served a long apprenticeship as an assistant, to take the head position.
Kisnorbo worked with City’s successful youth teams before taking over as head coach of their W-League team, leading them to the championship. He then worked as Warren Joyce’s assistant with the A-League team before spending this past season as Mombaerts number two.
Mobaerts was guarded when asked about his future just after the grand final defeat.
”It’s not the moment to answer this question now. My first idea now at the moment is to support my players and my staff, they have done a great job. I don’t want to speak about myself, my situation – it’s too early. We will see in a few days.”
The coach believes that the lack of a trophy does not mean the season can be regarded as a failure, while he is also confident that the experience of a finals campaign and the disappointment of defeat in the championship decider will spur the club and players on.
“I think it’s a team that has progressed, and to play this kind of game – grand finals, final of Cup, maybe next season the Asian Champions League – that will also help the team to reach another level.
“We didn’t have the experience of this grand final, now we have this experience. And I’m sure we will learn and come back stronger.
“We showed this year that we can set up an offensive style of play – we are the best team with Sydney about attacking, we have the best scorer (Jamie Maclaren, who won the Golden Boot) . We are close to their (Sydney) level in another style and I am sure we will challenge more.”
Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing