Another week, another chance to turn it around

It was the same old same old from the Heart last weekend, but we did get a goal. Now we take on Adelaide United at home, who are also struggling. Max and Ash look at the week that was and what will be.

Newcastle Jets VS Melbourne Heart
Ash: Once again we did what we have been good at – losing an away match. I was really hoping for our first win, maybe a draw, but Taggart was on fire and his goals were great to watch. I hear he is not on contract so maybe Heart could grab him in the transfer window in January… What can be said about this game, it just seems like a broken record, and we need somehow to change it. I was at my local pub watching this match with friends, and there was another A-League fan watching it. Of course he was a Jets supporter. That’s the luck that we have been getting, nothing going our way at all.

Max: We came up against a team growing in confidence following a number of wins and the difference between the teams was obvious. Heart’s lack of self-assurance showed in numerous wayward passes that gave possession back to the Jets too easily and allowed them to create goals. How deflating it was to see error after error… It was good to see Kisnorbo and Migliorini back from injury, but the defence backed off too often and our midfield failed to put enough pressure on Newcastle. Scoring a goal must have served as some relief for the team in what was another typical away game.

Heart’s Overall Home Game Stats:
Won 16 / Drawn 14 / Lost 15 (Source: Ultimate A-league)

The Heart’s good home record has taken a hit recently. Now we need a win to ensure winning remains our dominant result.

Our Predictions for Melbourne Heart VS Adelaide United:
Ash: The active bay are going to be having a 20 minutes silence at this match during this match. We need something to happen. All I can say is make sure you come along and help support the club. If we lose Aloisi is really going to be under the pump, already over the last few weeks the hashtag #aloisiout has been very active, he must be feeling it. I am hoping for our first win for the season. Go Heart.

Max: The reported return of Harry Kewell after his long absence and the increasing pressure on Aloisi adds more interesting storylines to this must-win game. Adelaide have a few points to prove too so it will be a competitive tussle. As much as the Heart will press hard for a win, I see a draw as the likely result.

Can we break our losing streak?

Not only is the Heart losing away games but now we have lost our home edge too. What hope is there that we can stop the rot this week versus the Jets in Newcastle? Max and Ash go over the week that was and what’s up today.

Heart VS Sydney FC
Ash: Heart really looked like it was struggling under the pressure in this crucial home game. We will go over our shortcomings in more detail in another post, but whether it is injuries, the coach, the players, they all need to get themselves playing like a team and starting to win matches.

Max: As someone else commented, the Heart made Sydney look like world-beaters. ADP showed again why he’s a class player and Sydney did put on a disciplined display. Heart to their credit showed their desire to not go down without a fight, throwing everything into the last 20 minutes to no avail… just one goal back may helped the confidence rebound a touch.

The Stats against Newcastle Jets:
- Overall (Win/Draw/Loss): 3/2/4

Our Predictions for Jets VS Heart:
Ash: We really need to at least get back into some points scoring form, and for this match I would gladly have a draw if it means a step toward winning some games. Maybe last week was a big wake up call for the team, I’ll be happy for a 1 all draw.

Max: The Jets are on a bit of a roll, whereas the Heart will be making every effort to dig themselves out of a deepening pit. To stay in touch with other teams, Aloisi must show he’s prepared to do whatever it takes with whoever he’s got to at least get a point. If Misfud or others aren’t taking their chances, then he should make changes. A draw.

The pain of losing and still believing

You know you love a club when you stay for the full 90+ minutes only to feel the pain of another loss. Then, you just want the next week to come around so you can show your support and hopefully see a win on the board. Let’s look again at what was and what’s coming up.

Heart VS WSW:
Ash: It is hard to watch the team you love lose time and again. Before the match, after work, I was getting nervous. The club is breaking records, but not in a good way. To settle my nerves, I just wanted to get to AAMI park, bag my usual seat and make sure I saved seats for friends. I thought, I have experienced highs and lows in supporting my AFL team in the past. But it wasn’t until I become a foundation member for Melbourne Heart that I felt like I actually belong to a club, that I actually feel the pain of losing and feel those nerves before a match. With every year that goes by this club grows on me, as I write this blog and watch last week’s match on reply for the third time, I could watch it a million times, and yet we didn’t win it. That’s what this club means to me.

Ok, I should be writing about the match against WSW, but with what we are going through, I felt like the above had to be said.

I felt like we played well, and once again we were robbed of a draw or a win. But after watching the replays WSW were always in the right positions, stopping our crosses and attempts on goal. Maybe, we are lacking in depth (and now even the Italian Migliorini is apparently injured and he is the injury replacement for Orlando Engelaar); maybe we are playing the wrong line up; maybe Aloisi does need a plan B. The season is still in its early days, but a draw at home would have been easier on the ladder.

The positives:
– Williams, once again a shining light, and should have stayed on for the full 90+ minutes.
– Walker looks like one of the other players who has that never say die attitude.
– The other two young guys Mauk and Retre played well, and showed some good signs.
– Watching Shinji Ono play and seeing his leadership of WSW on the field.

The Negatives:
– I did think that Aziz Behich looked like he was playing the last 40 minutes injured, after he hurt his back, and should have been replaced.
– Mifsud was having trouble against the big WSW defenders.
– Not winning at home.

Max: I couldn’t be at this game but was checking Twitter regularly for updates. Following Heart has certainly become a tough emotional ride, especially when you see how close we come in each game to scoring goals but just can’t put them away. One goal against WSW would have been enough to earn a deserved draw; the taking of two chances would have resulted in a win over a very ordinary WSW. Like many fans and the media, I’m also analysing why Heart has become a team of ‘would of’ and ‘could of’, instead of one that is realising its potential.

I too watched the replay and what stood out is the lack of co-ordinated purpose between our forwards. I can see the understanding between them is growing but Mifsud and Gogol looked unsure of their position and that’s something Aloisi must fix rather than just hoping they work it out. Gogol’s height could have been used to unsettle the Wanderer’s defence in a central position, ready to knock down crosses or hold up the ball for Mifsud or Williams to run onto and get shots on goal. I was surprised Mifsud didn’t read some of the play better to get in goal scoring positions but he looks more promising with each game. Shots on goal is the other factor here, as the Herald Sun focused on yesterday; Heart is having as many shots as most other teams, yet only 27% of those shots are hitting the target which also ranks us at the bottom of the pack. What can I say other than the team needs to work on setting up chances that allow for more accurate shots on goal, as well as individual improvement in this vital area. You do get a sense that once we score again, the team’s confidence will return and chances will be taken.

The Stats against Sydney:
- Overall (Win/Draw/Loss): 3/5/1
- Last time they meet:

Our Predictions for Heart VS Sydney:
Ash: If any team is our bitch, then it is Sydney. We certainly know what that feels like being in that position for most of the clubs in the A-League. But Sydney have only beaten us once, and that is one time to many in my book. Heart need to forget about our losing streak, and all the other long bad records we are breaking, and think that we need to keep Sydney as the club we know we have it over. We must win, a draw would be ok, we just need to have at least one club that we can say we have it over them. Sydney did beat Victory last round 3-2, just showing that in this competition no club is laying down. I would love to see a win in this match, but I’m feeling down in the gutter, beaten at the moment, I’m just hoping we give it all and have a draw, 2-2.

The positives from the last two home matches is seeing crowds over 8,000, lets all make sure we show a sea of red and white and support for the players, and hopefully the team can bring home the full points for us.

C’mon you boys in red.

Max: I’m not convinced by Sydney’s win over Victory that they are a renewed force. Their defence can be broken down by an extra hungry Heart who will want nothing more than to break its losing streak and get three points to show that it is a competitive team. We need to minimise ADP’s influence of course and our defence needs to be more decisive with clearing the ball than against WSW. I predict Heart will get that win 2-1.

Now for WSW, at least it’s at home!

imageThis is proving to be another tough A-League season and Heart have been unlucky so far. Read our post “Stand up Melbourne Heart!” for our analysis of Heart’s woes and what we need to do to put an end to our winless start. Hopefully tonight will be the night at home against Western Sydney Wanderers.

 

The Stats against WSW:  Overall (Win/Draw/Loss): 0/0/3. Biggest crowd against WSW at AAMI park: 6,101

Our Predictions for Heart Vs WSW:

Ash: I’m not sure if I should go by my predictions from the start of the year or re-think them. But I have to go with my heart, and hope that we maintain our solid home form.  Will Mifsud be the forward we are hoping he is and how will we go without Kewell again after his latest injury? These are the questions I am looking at while pondering over this match. We will have to wait longer to see Kewell and Mifsud in the starting XI. Seeing Mifsud score some great goals in front of the home crowd would be fantastic. So, going with my heart! it’s going to be tough one but I see Heart getting their first win over WSW, 1-0.

Max: WSW are looking ominously good again and we can expect they will be backed by a strong group of travelling fans. But no team is looking invincible in these early stages and the Heart’s hunger to get its first win on the board will drive the home team to throw everything at Popovic’s defence, building on that promising first half display against the Roar. If Golgol, Williams, Mifsud or anyone else seizes the day and turns possession into shots on goal, then we will experience that vital first win. Heart to take it 2-1.

Stand up Melbourne Heart!

We were part of a chorus of Melbourne Heart fans in our last article, “On the long road looking for a win”, calling for the team to fire up against the Roar. That’s how they started but Ash for one (like many other members) just wanted to crawl under the couch when we conceded those goals. We’ve decided to get on our soap box, and have a big shout… Let it all out and have a look at a few aspects of the club.

John Aloisi: Is it Aloisi?

Whether you think he was the right man for the job at the time or not, he is our manager and we don’t believe in chopping and changing staff near the start of the season. At the time Ash and Max believed that Ante Milicic was the better man for the job but he is now at WSW and what a great place to be for an upcoming coach. Heart of course chose Aloisi to take the head position. Last year he did a good job, apart from this away debacle. This season was the first time he could be involved in getting the players he wanted. Against Roar, he did change it up (for the first time in his coaching period). We had great opportunities for the first 30 minutes but critically we didn’t take the chances. During the second half, our defence lapsed and Roar scored some great technical goals although the second was offside.

If Aloisi can maintain the squad’s focus like all the games so far this season (bar the Perth match), then our finals chances will vastly improve. But he has to maintain this, and not, like the Perth match, have the squad park the bus right at the start. Heart play better when they go on the attack in the away matches. Try scaring the opposition more!

The players:
I think the club has done well in the squad line up for this season, picking up some great players and having good depth in the team. Maybe if we had Engelaar, Kewell and Kisnorbo all in the line up, this might have given us our first away win. Of course we will never know, but when they are all fit and fighting to get in the line up, this can only be an impressive squad. We need Mifsud to get off the mark quickly.

Off the field:
The club seems to be ticking the boxes off the field, such as helping the community, getting involved with the fans and members. But, unfortunately it doesn’t matter what you do off the field, if you’re giving bad performances and breaking the wrong type of records on the field. The news only shows results and much of the great work off the field quickly disappears. All we can say is keep up the great off field activities and work. This helps create a community aspect of the club which we all love.

We are not experts, just members of a club we love and want to see win. But, does this mean at all cost? Heart seems to be a club that has its head on its shoulders and not making rushed decisions. Off field, the club is doing fantastic work in the community and with involving the fans in match-related activities. If this was how we rated the club alone, then we would have to say hands down that the club is in exactly the right shape. But, the club has a purpose, and that’s to play football, and on the field this means to win matches. Winning matches is what gets bums on seats, playing quality football on the field is where it counts for gaining members. We believe the club needs to maintain the great work off the field, but it needs to develop a killer instinct on the field. This is something that at the moment we see in the Victory and the Roar. The league is too tight and tough not to have a fully committed squad for the full length of the match; if you go to sleep or make a mistake then your opponents will smash you, which seems to be the case for our club. If it wasn’t for these lapses and maybe hitting those close misses, we could have at least 1 win or maybe 2 and everyone would be twittering a different tune.

As members, we have to do what we do best – get along to the matches, support the club’s activities, bring friends. We have to get behind the club, and let the team know we are standing next to them no matter what. We need to let the club sort out the on field issues, and hopefully they get it right very soon. So make sure you are at the game this Friday. Go Heart!