As Melbourne City’s transformation under Erick Mombaerts continues, so too does the role of centre-back Harrison Delbridge.
Two games into his second season at the club, and Delbridge looks a completely different player to the one who partnered Bart Schenkeveld last season.
The 27-year-old started the new campaign by keeping Melbourne Victory captain Ola Toivonen uncharacteristically quiet, before backing this up in City’s win over Adelaide by limiting Kristian Opseth’s influence.
In addition to shutting down big strikers with his physical presence, Delbridge has enjoyed being able to show off his technical side under this new system, which he believes is built for success.
“I’m loving it, it means we’re on the ball a little more as centre backs and ideally it means we’re holding onto the ball, keeping more possession so for us its great and it’s showing for the strikers who are getting some goals and hopefully the supporters are enjoying it as well,” he said.
“It’s two big guys [Toivonen and Opseth] in a row … I don’t mind the physical side of things, trying to keep them as quiet as possible. They’re both quality players and hopefully we can continue that form.
“It’s good to show a more technical side to your game, play out from the back, having a bit more responsibility, a bit more pressure, teams wanting to press you and still trying to play out through that.
“It’s enjoyable for me because we want to be on the ball and hopefully keep doing the other side of my game which are my strengths, which would be the physical side.”
While the defender believes it is “hard to say” as to whether he is in career-best form, he believes the team is “set up well for success.”
A first half brace to Jamie Maclaren ensured City would walk away victorious in the first of a two-part series against Adelaide United.
The two sides will meet again – this time in Adelaide – in the FFA Cup final with a cauldron-like atmosphere expected at Coopers Stadium.
Adelaide will be looking to defend its crown and create history by being the first side to win three FFA Cups, while Melbourne City will be desperate to add to their own trophy cabinet – whose only occupant is the 2016 FFA Cup.
“The fact that we’ve gotten into the final is not only big for us as players but for the club.
“I think it means a lot for the supporters who have been crying out for some silverware lately, so its massively important to us and we’re looking forward to hopefully winning,” Delbridge said.
“You never know, we may see a different team on Wednesday night if there’s a few changes and I think there may be a few for us as well.
“It is what it is, we don’t get much of a say in it but its an interesting one you play a team and then go to their place to play them again.
“It’s a good pitch and there’s usually a good set up so we’re looking forward to it.”