Soccer-Melbourne looking for success that money can't buy, says coach Kisnorbo


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - AFC Champions League - Group G - Melbourne City v United City - BG Stadium, Thanyaburi, Pathum Thani, Thailand - April 18, 2022 Melbourne City's Marco Tilio celebrates scoring their third goal with teammates REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Melbourne City will hope to emulate sister club Manchester City in sealing back-to-back championships at the A-League Grand Final on Saturday. For Melbourne coach Patrick Kisnorbo, that is where the similarities end.

The Premier League club's parent company, City Football Group, took over the Australian outfit in 2014 when it was a struggling expansion side known as Melbourne Heart.

After years of planning and investment in its youth academy, Melbourne City have become heavyweights in a league where tight salary caps rule out "buying" championships through elite players and massive transfer fees.

A-League teams can spend barely more than A$3 million ($2.12 million) on payments to players per season, a fraction of the reported 300 million euros ($316.08 million), including salary, agent fees and bonuses, Manchester City agreed to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

City Football Group's ownership has nonetheless helped Melbourne City become a destination club for some of Australia's brightest talents.

But for Kisnorbo, success has arrived through hard work rather than big cheques.

"We’re not buying players for $100 million," he told Reuters on Thursday.

"We all spend the same money. What we pride ourselves on is our behaviours. Our investment goes into improving our academy and getting people jobs in the community.

"I think you guys think we’re like Manchester City and Pep Guardiola who can sign Haaland for 65 million.

"No chance ... But what we do is invest our money in facilities where we can get the best kids in Melbourne and give them an opportunity."

City will play cross-town rivals Western United for a chance to become the first A-League team to win back-to-back championships and "Premier's Plates", the trophy awarded to the top-finishing side at the end of the regular season.

Expansion side Western United, coached by Kisnorbo's former Australia team mate John Aloisi, will play their first Grand Final in their third season at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Saturday.

City are clear favourites among bookmakers, despite losing two out of three matches to Western United this season.

City had also failed to beat fellow top-four side Adelaide United in the regular season but emerged with a 2-1 win on aggregate in the two-legged semi-finals.

Kisnorbo was dismissive of the idea that his team are big-stage performers.

"I don’t think it matters in terms of the scenario, the occasion. Every game is a battle. Pre-season games are a battle," he said.

"A football match is a football match."

($1 = 0.9350 euros)

($1 = 1.4124 Australian dollars)

(This story refiles to add dropped word in headline)

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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