With the appointment of Le Patron Erik Mombaerts as A-League Head Coach and the arrival of Austrian defender Richard Windbichler, the 2019/20 A-League pre-season is well and truly kicking into gear in at Melbourne City.
The long A-League pre-season will serve as a vital period of times for new signings and returning players to press their cases for minutes with Mombaerts, who has spoken of his desire to implement a game style that will excite the City fan base.
“It is also very important to me that fans can feel proud of how we play,” Mombaerts said upon his arrival at City.
“And that they will enjoy the whole experience watching the game.”
Also looking to lay a claim for a spot with the A-League side, or even an elusive A-League contract, will be a number of talented youngsters from Melbourne City’s academy.
Prodigies such as Daniel Arzani, Ramy Najjarine, Denis Genreau, Connor Metcalfe, Moudi Najjar and Idrus Abdulahi have featured in a City shirt on A-League pitches in recent campaigns; demonstrating the strength of the academy assembled in Bundoora.
And soon another generation of talent will take the field at the City Football Academy looking to begin a professional journey of their own.
One such player is 19-year-old left back Mark Karlic.
Joining City in 2017, Karlic recently returned to the first side of NPL Head Coach Petr Kratky after a long layoff with injury; working diligently in his rehabilitation to ensure his return in time for A-League pre-season.
“I tore my MCL,” Karlic explained when asked about his injury.
“So, I was out for 11 to 12 weeks. I’ve had to do a lot of strength and conditioning work. Done some plyometrics and a lot of stretching as well to strengthen the ligament.”
However, Karlic was not an absent figure during the period he was waylaid through injury; serving as a constant spectator of City’s NPL side – both home and away – in order to support his teammates.
“You need to be around the boys,” he said
“Even though… when I went, I’d feel bad because I’d miss [playing] a lot, but it was good to see the boys, support them and get them through games. Wanted to let them know I’m there with them.
“I think this City side has a unique vibe. All the boys get along really well, there’s really good banter.”
Karlic took a winding road before landing in Bundoora, making stops at a number of prestigious NPL Victoria sides as he honed his craft before catching the eye of the City Academy Staff.
Though he arrived with a strong technical foundation, the defender does admit that there were aspects of himself as a player that required improvement when he arrived.
“I joined in 2017 after the NTC program, when I was 17,” Karlic recalled.
“I started off at FTS – Football Technique School – and then started playing at South Melbourne, Bulleen and Bentleigh Greens.
“I think the main thing [he had to work on] was probably physicalility.
“When I first started at City, I struggled a lot physically, with running especially. I felt so unfit when PK [Then U20s Head Coach Paddy Kisnorbo] took me for pre-season with the 20s.
“But physically, I’ve gotten a lot better.
“Technically I’ve also gotten better, but with the technical stuff, you’ve got the base. The physicality, I had to build that up.
“My short-term goal, I’d like to get a first team contract at Melbourne City. Long term goal I’d like to probably go overseas or search for opportunities overseas.
“I’d describe myself as an intelligent player, a player that understands the game tactically. One that works really hard and never gives up.”