Ex-England boss on hand to help City
MELBOURNE City coach Mike Valkanis has a powerful ally to call upon with their season on the line in coming weeks, starting at home on Friday night to Adelaide United.
Former England and Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson watched his Melbourne City session in Bundoora on Thursday, as he commences a mentoring role for the City Football Group.
With a season that started with enormous hope and potential on the verge of collapsing and Valkanis fighting to prove he is capable of leading City into the future, Hodgson is uniquely placed to advise on pressures and expectations attached to coaching.
Hodgson, 69, started coaching Swedes Halmstad in 1976 before leading the likes of Inter Milan, Blackburn, Fulham and several national teams.
He was sacked after England's poor Euro 2016 showing, after intense scrutiny from the British press and public.
Hodson, who spoke with Valkanis and the coaching staff before and after training on Thursday, will watch on from the AAMI Park stands on Friday night with City needing a win to keep its top-three hopes alive.
"It's fantastic, that's why it's so good being part of this group. A 10-minute chat turned into an hour, so many stories," Valkanis said.
"He's here as a consultant to help us coaches. We're so lucky to have him here, he's got a wealth of experience.
"It's finals football on our doorstep. Adelaide have had good results, they've played good football, no fear - they've got nothing to gain or lose."
City took every precaution with gun Danish defender Michael Jakobsen after he injured his quad in the final session before the Western Sydney game a fortnight ago.
He was kept in cotton wool for City's final session on Thursday, training alone inside while the rest of his teammates had a standard pre-game session in Bundoora.
Osama Malik will also come into the XI after young defender Ruon Tongyik (illness) was ruled out, while midfielder Neil Kilkenny (lower back) will also return.
Valkanis again labeled Jakobsen the best defender in the A-League, and declared that he would lift the whole team.
"He'll bring leadership qualities at the back, being able to organise people around him and in front of him," he said.
"He brings that insurance to the rest of the group. His personality brings a lot of belief to the group.
"He's been out for quite some time so its about getting match fitness as well."