MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Erick Mombaerts, the experienced Frenchman who led Melbourne City to their maiden A-League final in his first season, has resigned as head coach to return to Europe, the club said on Thursday.
City, who lost 1-0 to Sydney FC after extra time in the championship decider last Sunday, said that Mombaerts's assistant Patrick Kisnorbo would step up into the role for next season.
The club, along with their neighbours Melbourne Victory and Western United, were forced to abandon their home city after a spike in COVID-19 cases and played the last six weeks of the campaign in New South Wales.
"I am sad to leave Melbourne City in these circumstances, but I am so very proud of the players and what the club has achieved during my time here," Mombaerts said in a news release.
"I have had a fantastic experience in Melbourne and I will always remember my time here with much fondness, but I have been away from my family for a long time and now I must return to care for them in France."
The 65-year-old former Paris St Germain and France under-21 coach said he thought that the club was in safe hands with the appointment of former Australia and Leeds United centre half Kisnorbo.
"Erick has taught me so much and I am extremely grateful for the way he has helped both myself and the club to develop over the last 14 months," Kisnorbo said.
The new A-League season is set to start in December and City will also feature in the Asian Champions League for the first time next year after finishing second in the A-League standings.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Kim Coghill)