Patrick Kisnorbo crossing the Melbourne Derby divide is a win for no one

Jamie Dunkin
The Nightly
Patrick Kisnorbo's move across the derby divides is a negative for the rivalry
Patrick Kisnorbo's move across the derby divides is a negative for the rivalry Credit: Melbourne Victory FC

Following months of speculation and fan outcry on both sides of the Melbourne football divide, Patrick Kisnorbo is now the Melbourne Victory manager.

The man who felt like Melbourne City’s only real club icon, having won trophies at every level from youth to women’s to men’s football, is now the head coach of their rivals, Melbourne Victory.

Perhaps alarmingly, no one is particularly happy about this.

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City fans are upset their most successful manager is now tainted by navy blue, while Victory fans are left disappointed that the club’s best answer to a coaching vacancy is a man who had previously humiliated their club 7-0 and 6-0 in the derby.

Neutral onlookers tend to have the same thought: “Wow, this is going to be great for the rivalry!”

But is it actually?

The rivalry has ended up losing a meaningful chapter in its own folklore with this crossing of the divide.

If you’re a Melbourne City fan, you’ve just seen yet another of your club greats cross the divide. Bruno Fornaroli’s turn to navy blue is still fresh in the memory.

Kisnorbo played for City, then won the club their first A-League Men championship and two premierships. He was the closest they’ve had to someone they could feel was truly theirs.

By this stage, you’re left not only with one less hero, but another legacy tainted, and a club desperately in need of heroes has lost another.

For Victory fans, they never rated Kisnorbo. He’s a fundamentally underwhelming choice for a parochial fanbase.

Should a club of their stature be forced to hire a legend of their rivals? Is Kisnorbo actually good enough in the first place? His record most recently at ES Troyes in France — 3 wins from 40 matches — is hardly something to phone home about.

Similar scenes unfolded in Sydney just over 18 months ago when Sydney FC’s Milos Ninkovic torched his legacy during a crosstown move to Western Sydney Wanderers.

Sure, the first derby was fantastic theatre and that storyline was compelling, but with Ninkovic now retired, does he “belong” to either side of the divide?

Will Patrick Kisnorbo truly “belong” to Melbourne Victory fans after this move? Or will he remain associated with the mob they hate?

If he doesn’t succeed – and very quickly – then he won’t be truly their man. He will remain a product of their rivals.

City fans won’t be thinking of him any more fondly either if he fails at Victory; he’s already committed the ultimate sin.

It’s bad for the league and even worse for fans that players and coaches are so capable of switching across derby lines like this.

While there’s not a massive range of options for both clubs recruiting and for players and coaches searching for gigs, can we look at the appointment of a legend of your rival club as anything other than disappointing?

It kills the tribalism of a rivalry and disassociates you from the point of a rivalry.

Us versus them. Our fans versus theirs. Our players versus theirs. Our hero versus theirs.

It seems more like “our current hero will be their future hero”.

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The front page of The Nightly for 12-07-2024

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