Rollercoaster season nearly over

Now that finals football is totally out of the question, Melbourne Heart can only hope it doesn’t finish the season in last place. Tonight Heart faces the Mariners in Gosford, a team priming itself for finals football and ACL action after somehow losing the Premier’s plate, so we can only hope that Wellington loses its final game (to Victory of all teams!).

Despite its most loyal fans talking up its chances of scraping into 5th or 6th spot (ourselves included), the truth is now obvious that Heart has been on the slide for a while, particularly the costly hoodoo of continuing to lose away games. We haven’t even been able to draw an away game for too long. Had we fought back in 3 or 4 more games this season to at least gain a draw, then we’d be in finals contention.

Heart’s strong home form seemed to be its salvation, until we crashed to Adelaide and then the Wanderers. I thought we didn’t play that badly against WSW with Golgol’s stunning goal providing real hope of at least a draw. However again we faded and lost to an ordinary looking team whose momentum seems to have carried it on to the Premiership – congratulations to Western Sydney for an amazing achievement. Of course Heart fans look forward to such glory in future seaons, but much change at the club is needed…more on that in the next few weeks. For now in case you’re about to tune out of the A-league until next season, a huge thanks to our readers / followers / supporters, it’s been an unexpectedly rewarding first season for The Big Heart. Keep up the faith and maintain your support for the Heart into the 2013/2014 season, it’s early days yet. Melbourne Heart forever!

 

Home pride at stake

At times of disappointment you tend to look back at happier times. Since Monday’s home loss to Adelaide I have found myself re-living the pleasure of the Heart’s first game of the season – a 2-1 away win against the Victory (our only ‘away’ win 5 months later). Of course the result was satisfying, but it was the team’s dedication to win each challenge and ultimately the game that has stayed with me. I think you have to look back sometimes to remember the reasons why you keep on believing.

Enough of the philosophising. I’m sure the Heart players have been doing some similar soul searching this week. We all know the team can play with conviction, it just unfortunately deserted them on Monday night when we needed it most. Perhaps the previous weekend’s continuation of losing away games (and to the bottom club Wellington), and with it our best chance to stay in the running for a finals place, was a psychological blow that has stayed with the team.

The truth is though there remain plenty of reasons why we the supporters, and hopefully the players, should continue to believe in our team. Our home record over January and February was second to none so there’s no reason why we won’t bounce back tonight against top team Western Sydney Wanderers. Their unbeaten run has to come to an end soon and such is the competitiveness of the A-league that a few times this season lowly teams have surprised the top teams. Let’s hope Aloisi’s team selection favours a strong attacking formation to break down a tough Wanderers defence. Shinji Ono will be rested apparently so that gives us more of a chance to control the midfield, but still we will need to be switched on for 90 minutes and challenging for every ball. We have nothing to lose, only our pride is at stake. Go Heart in our final home game!!

Melbourne Heart VS Adelaide United. Big in more ways than one.

Long weekends, you have to love them. Well I spent my Saturday working hard in the hot sun, now here I am hoping to give a very quick run down of the race for the bottom two finals spots. Tonight’s game versus Adelaide is a must win match for Heart, and we are lucky enough to have our Max being part of the day. He will be sitting with some other lucky bloggers, and will be sharing his experience.

 

I have just done some very quick and rough sums in my head (and yes after Saturday’s hard work, it isn’t functioning at 100%), but here we go. I will give my predictions and then what the ladder would most likely look like for each of the reminding rounds:

Round 24: I know in an earlier blog I thought Adelaide might win this one, but with Heart’s home form and with how the ladder is looking, I am hoping for Heart to get the 3 points. Ladder after round 24: 5th Heart (30 points), 6th Sydney (30 points), 7th Newcastle (30 points), 8th Roar (29 points) and Perth (28 points).

Round 25: Heart win over WSW; Adelaide win over Newcastle; Sydney win over Victory; Brisbane win over Central Coast; Perth win over Wellington. Ladder prediction after round 25: 5th Heart (33 points), 6th Sydney (33 points), 7th Brisbane (32 points), 8th Perth (31 points), 9th Newcastle (30 points).

Round 26: Brisbane win over Heart; WSW win over Sydney; Victory win over Perth. Ladder prediction after round 26: 5th Brisbane (35 points), 6th Heart (33 points), 7th Sydney (33 points), 8th Perth (31 points), Newcastle (30 points).

Round 27: Central Coast win over Heart; Brisbane win over Sydney; WSW win over Newcastle; Perth win over Adelaide. Ladder prediction after the last round: 5th Brisbane (38 points), 6th Perth (34 points), 7th Heart (33 points), 8th Sydney (33 points), 9th Newcastle (30 points).

 

Melbourne Heart vs Adelaide United is a vital must win for the Heart. Pressure is going to be on in more ways than one, with both teams going to have to play in this blistering heatwave we are having. Lucky for Adelaide they can afford to rest their main players because they are looking at making the finals. Heart on the other hand need to win this one, with nearly a full line up to pick from. Aloisi should think of making some player changes and taking some chances. Heart have no time now to take it easy, for us to make the finals we need to now be playing aggressive attacking football. We also will have Max on the field and going to the press conference for the match. So look out in the week ahead for his article about the match.

 

The pressure is on, and looking at the last 4 rounds, Heart must win 3 of them. This means breaking this horrible interstate winless run we have had, also playing against the WSW at home will not be easy. They are looking like the team to beat, and congratulations to them for their great first year. It is great for the competition as a whole for them to be doing so well on and off the field. Looks like the last remaining rounds are going to be interesting with nearly any of the bottom sides able to take the last 2 spots, let’s just hope that Heart are one of them.

Time to end our ‘inexplicable’ away form

Whether you’re a fan of Craig ‘Fozz’ Foster or not, on The World Game a few weeks ago he accurately summed up Melbourne Heart’s away form this season in one word: inexplicable. If no-one, even John Aloisi, has been able to diagnose the exact reasons for Heart’s away failures, then at least there were signs in our last away loss to Newcastle that the team can create decent chances to score. Now’s the time to prove we can take those chances this Sunday in New Zealand against bottom team Wellington Phoenix.

Heart has definitely proved that its run of home wins has been no fluke, after impressively brushing aside Sydney FC 3-1 last weekend. In this form and with the thrill still fresh of dominating a game in front of 14,000 people, the players must be primed to score another win to cement a top six place. Like all Heart fans, I was buzzing after our win and I took great pleasure during the week in watching the highlights and analysis on The World Game (no pay TV in my house), to re-live our fabulous attacking movements. Walker deserved his man of the match award, Kalmar’s goals and masterful displays are a season highlight and it was a relief to see Germano finish so impressively after Babalj’s neat pass. To keep the wins coming, we need our midfielders to finish chances that fall their way.

I’m sure all Heart fans won’t care who scores a goal or how many, as long as we come back from New Zealand with 3 critical points ahead of playing 3 of the top 4 teams in March. It will be a fascinating final month for the whole A-league. Go Melbourne’s Red and White!!