Melbourne City or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Trust the Process

Is Patrick Kisnorbo a secret fan of NBA franchise the Philadelphia 76ers? It wouldn’t come as a surprise to find out if he was, given the Melbourne City coach’s frequent references to his side’s “process” throughout the early stages of the 2020-21 A-League season. 

Now just as famous as an internet meme as it is for its original purpose, the “Trust the Process” phrase is intrinsically tied to the 76ers organisation; first popularised as a rallying cry of former general manager Sam Hinkie as he went about rebuilding the franchise’s shattered roster and then exploding in popularity when it became something of a pro-wrestling style catch-phrase for all-star centre Joel Embiid. 

It has since, with varying levels of sincerity, spread throughout sports and popular culture.

“[Kisnorbo] tried to show us a bit of the Michael Jordan documentary on Netflix the other day, so perhaps he is a secret basketball fan,” laughed City defensive midfielder Rostyn Griffiths. “He touched on a few things. Coaches draw on whatever inspiration they can at times – be it basketball or football or whatever.”

Although it’s unlikely that his usage of the term will lead to fans donning customised tshirts or any of his players self-nicknaming themselves as ‘The Process’, Kisnorbo, regardless of where he sourced the wording from, has frequently appealed to his side’s process throughout the opening months of his tenure.

Indeed, such is the City coach’s commitment to the concept that, even after his side’s 6-0 drubbing of Melbourne Victory in last week’s Melbourne Derby – ostensibly one of the biggest wins in the club’s history –  he refused to be drawn on the ramifications of the game beyond his side’s execution of their gameplan. 

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“I know you guys are saying it’s a big thing because it’s a derby, but it was another game for us,” he said post-win.

“The important thing is our performance and how we executed that. That’s what I’m happy about the most.”

City’s triumph over Victory marked their third straight win, with the club beginning to build a sense of momentum befitting their pre-season title-contender tag after a slow and uninspiring start to the campaign – which included three straight defeats prior to their current streak. 

But according to Griffiths, who added City’s third in that Derby win and was an injury-enforced absentee during his side’s losing run, it was his side’s trust in their process that enabled them to pull themselves from that hole and get moving in the right direction. 

“At the beginning of the season, we discussed what we wanted, and everyone set out individual and team goals and that sort of stuff,” he explained. “They’re always the same goals – we want to be in the top, we want to win the league, we want to do that.

“I think one thing that PK [Kisnorbo] said at around that time when we weren’t getting results was to forget about the result and let’s stick to the process. And I’ve watched his after-match interviews and he’s big on the process. 

“He sort of reaffirmed that, if we do the right things the results will come and not to get too carried away with having to win, or that this game means more than that one or that this is a derby we had to win. 

“We got back to basics and back to the process.”

Of course, most clubs in football would likely declare that they some sort of process that they employ and believe brings them results – in fact, it would probably be more concerning if they didn’t. 

However, according to the 33-year-old Griffiths, the ethos that is now in place at City is building upon foundations that have been laid in recent years that instil within the club an increasingly unshakable belief in what they’re trying to accomplish. 

“I think if you look at the history of this club it’s changed players reasonably frequently and it’s changed a few coaches,” he said.

“But if you look at the last couple of seasons, in particular, Erick [Mombaerts] came in last season and set a foundation of something that players truly believed in and the club believed in.

“On top of that, we kept a nucleus of the same players and brought in a coach [Kisborbo] that believed in the same thing; building towards this point now where we can actually believe that the club is in the right direction, it’s doing the right things.

“I was watching the Manchester City documentary the other night and obviously it’s different when we’re talking about Pep Guardiola, but the biggest difference between them and some of the other clubs is that they believe in what they’re doing and they believe they’re going to win games. 

“They’re not ashamed of that, they’re not arrogant, they just go into matches believing they’re going to win and dominate and play well. I think that’s the key ingredient that we need, that we’ve got to go into games feeling that there’s nothing that can beat us because I think if we turn up and do everything right on the day I’m not sure there’s any team that can really live with us.”

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