Can JVS turn around the Heart?

A promising new day dawns for Melbourne Heart FC following a tumultuous weekend where the club ended John Aloisi’s reign and it was confirmed a change of ownership is likely very soon.

Very few could be surprised at JA’s departure, but we were still shocked that it had finally happened. Despite the months of tiring speculation, it seemed the club would keep giving JA more games to turn it around. A point of no return was obviously reached with the loss to Wellington, which cemented our cellar dweller status.

Unfortunately for Aloisi his time in charge will be remembered for a team that created chances to score game after game for no reward. It was an exasperating and morale-sapping situation for everyone connected with the club that couldn’t go on. The players’ role in Aloisi’s demise was acknowledged by Chairman Peter Sidwell’s frank comment that he “told them (the players) we’ve all got some blood on our hands.” This was also a telling admission that the board got it wrong in appointing someone with no senior coaching experience. Let’s hope they have learnt their lesson on this point.

So where to now? The club’s announcement that John van’t Schip is their preferred man to take over makes sense given he has already done the job. He has the experience to at least fill the role to the end of the season, which may be the only commitment he may make to the club and vice versa. The backdrop to this dramatic time in MHFC’s brief existence is the likely change of ownership and the new owners are sure to want a say in who the long-term coach will be. Gerard Nus has been mentioned too; his website shows he has international experience but not at a senior level, so he would make a good assistant to JVS. Right now the Heart player group needs strong leadership that inspires sorely needed confidence, based on experience and tactical knowledge. JVS fits that bill.

Final chance to believe for 2013

Another week in the life of Melbourne Heart, searching for something to cheer about in the festive season…

Melbourne Derby 21/12/2013
Ash: I was sitting in a totally different spot than our normal area at AAMI park. We were up on level 3, near the Victory active supporters group, so was able to experience a home Melbourne derby from a different perspective. I felt like Heart were doing well at the start, it could have gone either way and we looked like we were in with a chance. Then Kisnorbo was red carded, and you knew at that point it was going down hill. I think we gave it a good shot for about the first 20 minutes of being a man down, before Victory got their first goal for the match.

Lucky for us Victory just seemed to want to run that ball into the net, cause we should have been beaten by about four or five goals. I would say before the red card Heart were actually in with a chance of winning this match, but unfortunately Heart just keeps on getting kicked while they’re down.

Max: I missed going to the pre-Christmas derby once again due to family commitments; I’m hoping the fixtures are re-shuffled next season for a change to the derby pattern of season opener, pre-Christmas and early March (not just for personal reasons!). I really don’t know now when or against who Heart will get its next win, I thought this game was a chance given our strong derby performances. The red card to Kisnorbo was harsh and Redmayne’s poor clearance to gift Victory a goal was regrettable. We could have held out like some teams do but Victory have quality forwards who exploited Heart’s weaknesses. Off the field it was reported again that the club was possibly being sold to the owner of Melbourne Storm but this remains unconfirmed (more on this soon).

The Stats against Wellington Phoenix:
– Overall (Win/Draw/Loss): 2/3/4

Our Predictions for Melbourne Heart VS Wellington Phoenix:
Ash: Unfortunately for Melbourne Heart there are no easy clubs in the A-League. After 9 matches against Wellington, Heart have only won twice. No Kisnorbo for this one after being red carded from the derby game. I think the positive for Heart is that Kewell has played 3 straight games, and he was in the starting line up in the derby. When he is playing we are a better side, he controls the midfield plays going forward. I would really love to see us win this one, but in the state of where Heart is at the moment even a draw would be great. Make sure you get to AAMI park today and support the red and white. Go Heart!

Max: Will today be the day we get our first win? Looking back to my expectations when the season kicked off, it’s a question I wouldn’t have believed we would be asking in late December. Our squad looked so promising on paper, but I remember noting how every other club had made some impressive signings. Like the Heart, Wellington have a very good squad and their results don’t reflect how well they’ve played at times. They will score if our defence doesn’t concentrate for the full 90 minutes; we will miss Kisnorbo and I’m glad to see Gerhardt back in, but I question why our younger players like Vrankovic and Walker aren’t being given a go this season. Gerhardt could be better used as a defensive midfielder shielding the back four. I’m looking forward to watching Kewell’s growing influence and hopeful we can score a few goals to secure that elusive win. Despite the reality so far, I will summon the belief to say this will be a winning day for the Heart.

Down in the dumps ahead of the derby

Ashley went to see Heart play in Sydney last week and you can read about his experience here. Max and Ash take a look at Heart’s pre-Christmas fortunes.

Sydney FC VS Melbourne Heart
Ash: If you read my Sydney blog you might have thought we won, I did enjoy the day and experience, but Melbourne Heart is like a broken record for the last two seasons, just the same old same old but this season we cannot even win at home. At least Mifsud finally scored in this one! He still missed some good chances and Kewell missed the penalty, it was another hard pill to swallow, and we seem to be swallowing a lot of them. Aliosi did bring on Gol Gol for Kisnorbo which shows he is trying everything he can to win, and it is not like we are not getting our chances, we just don’t seem to capitalise on them and this is one of our major issues. I do congratulate the club for coming over to thank the away supporters afterwards.

Also, an interesting point was seeing the players at the Sydney airport…they all looked demoralised. Some positive and winning energy needs to be injected into this team.

Max: Watching a ‘highlights package’ is about all I can stomach at the moment. The frustration and angst of watching a team failing to take numerous chances to score is too exasperating for me to handle. It might be easier to take if we were crap all over the park but we’re not, except for occasional but now semi-regular defensive lapses that are cancelling out any goals we might score. I read that Kewell’s presence lifted the team so that’s one positive, as well as Mifsud finally putting one away. (Regarding Kewell’s penalty miss, why has The World Game site kept up a stand-alone video ‘highlight’ of it all week? I’m a fan of SBS but this unprecedented spotlight on a great player’s mistake is disgraceful, just like Ryall’s behaviour toward Kewell.)

The Stats against Melbourne Victory:
– Overall (Win/Draw/Loss): 3/4/3
AAMI Park stats: 15/15/15

Our Predictions for Melbourne Derby:
Ash: The derby matches are always entertaining and for the most part both teams always seem to step it up a notch. Going by form well Heart are not looking good. If we lose or even draw it’s just going to put more pressure on a side that is looking like they have been defeated. Once again after the Sydney match the cries for “Aliosi Out” are being chanted across the social media sites. I can’t see it happening this weekend, I think like the club I have been defeated. The longer we go without a win the more pressure the management will be under and in turn make it harder for a win. Lets make sure we show our support and do what we can, up against Victory we will need as much red and white in the stands as we can and unite.

Max: At least we can hope to throw out the form book with this game. Victory are getting better as the season goes on and Heart, well… But anything can happen and I’d like to think a draw would be a good outcome but it’s not what we need. As Scott Munn commented during the week, “admirable draws” are not acceptable because we need results. Forget the pressure Heart and just go for the satisfaction of beating our local rival (and of course gaining 3 points for the first time in a long time). Go the Heart!