Can the Heart’s improvement continue?

Coming off a big week with a home win and the huge news of our new owners, the Heart went into the Adelaide United game with renewed spirit. Tonight we play our first home game under our new ownership against Sydney FC, make sure you get along rather than watching it on SBS! Max and Ash take a look at what was and what will be:

Adelaide United 2 – Melbourne Heart 2
Ash: We were coming up against one of the in-form sides of the competition. The big positive from this match was we took them on, we played great football and we didn’t have any moments where like in past matches we fade for a minute or two. We stayed strong, unfortunately so did Adelaide. I think both teams played good football and the draw was a good outcome.

Max: How satisfying it is to see the Heart get back to being a competitive side who can score goals in away games. We even came extremely close to finally winning away and claiming 3 points to close the gap on the ladder. Despite this disappointment, there were improvements to keep alive the belief. Captain Kewell is looking more dangerous and he took an excellent penalty; Dugandzic looks like a man who’s rediscovered his purpose and Engelaar got more game time. I was glad to see Kisnorbo back in the team at last, we need a player of his experience and grit on the field who it turns out has a record of scoring from set pieces…another reason for JVS to keep playing him.

Stats VS Sydney FC (W/D/L): 3/5/3

Melbourne Heart VS Sydney FC:
Ash: Nothing separates the two teams, but Sydney are coming off a strong result against Victory. I think if our team plays the way they have been playing over the last two matches, we will be tough to beat. JVS has been starting different players and seems to show if you are not in form you are not in the starting line up. We are now on a non-losing streak of 2 matches and I see this increasing and another win on the board. Go Heart.

Max: We could worry that a revitalised Sydney will pick up where it left off against a woeful Victory team. But the world now knows we aren’t Victory (thanks Manchester City!) and the Heart has never played as bad as our city rivals did. Our last performance against Del Piero’s men was very poor; fortunately the Heart are in a much better frame of mind now and will be hungry for a win after coming so close against Adelaide. The change in the club’s ownership fortunes will provide the players with that added incentive to keep improving. With a spot in the finals not mathematically impossible, we have nothing to lose and as Murdocca said in the press during the week, the boys still want to finish the season with pride. I think the Heart will edge this one for another memorable night on Yarraside. Go Melbourne Heart!

A Letter from the CEO of Manchester City FC

The official letter from the CEO of Manchester City FC posted on the Melbourne Heart web site:
“Dear Members and Supporters,

It was announced yesterday that Manchester City Football Club, in partnership with the ownership group of the Melbourne Storm, had successfully acquired Melbourne Heart FC.

Today, on our first full day, the work has begun to help your Club to fulfill its immense potential both on and off the field, within Australia and beyond.

A lot has been written overnight about Manchester City’s entry into Australian football, the city of Melbourne, and the Hyundai A-League. It is our view that we are at the very beginning of a significant opportunity. There is a lot to be done and we are very excited to start that work today.

The first thing we intend to do is listen, learn and better understand every aspect of the Club. In the last 24 hours, we have met with members of the Club‘s management. We have also met with John van ‘t Schip, his coaches and the players. The Director of Football at Manchester City FC, Txiki Begiristain, and the Director of the City Football Academy, Brian Marwood, have already watched their first training session.

Naturally, this process will also include hearing from fans, members and partners that have supported this Club during its short history. We want to listen and learn first, and take well-supported decisions immediately thereafter.

The one thing we already know is that we will work hard to deliver very good football. Melbourne coaches and players will have access to City’s world-class global football resources, including scouting, coaching, human performance and performance analysis. It is also expected that players and coaches from Melbourne will spend time at the City Football Academy (CFA) – a world-class facility for football training and development that will open adjacent to the Etihad Stadium in Manchester in July 2014.

I understand that many of you will have questions about the future of the Club. We are committed to sharing information with you as soon as we can. However, as I stated yesterday, out of respect for the players and coaching staff in the middle of the Hyundai A-League season, we will not be making any more major announcements until the end of the current season.

In the meantime, we should all ensure that the team on the pitch enjoys all of our support for a strong and successful remainder of the season.

Yours sincerely,

Ferran Soriano
CEO, Manchester City Football Club”

Future shock for Melbourne Heart

Max and Ash add their views to everyone else’s on yesterday’s stunning announcement that our club has been bought by the Manchester City and Melbourne Storm consortium. There’s also the weekend’s trip to Adelaide to preview.

Melbourne Heart’s new owners and our future

Ash: We have been waiting for this answer, and we finally received it. I for one wasn’t expecting the answer we received in the end. When I heard Manchester City were the new owners of Melbourne Heart, I was actually buzzing on a high for most of the day. We actually have owners who have the money behind them to build this club into a great Melbourne club for the future. It also stops rumours popping up of South Melbourne putting in a bid for the club. We as Heart supporters can finally look forward to seeing some bright exciting football in the near future.

One thing we did was look into the Melbourne City FC name and we did notice the owners of Melbourne Storm purchased the business name back in July 2013 along with the web site What does this mean? Well it might mean that Heart could be having a name change for next season, I would assume that they did this just so no one else could grab it before them. Despite what’s been reported, this doesn’t mean the name change is certain, and we will only know this after the current season finishes.

I am certainly excited to know that we have owners who are experienced in the world of football, that our club can use their world networks for finding players and training the coaches.

One thing for sure after spending such a long time in the darkness, it’s great seeing a very bright light at the end of the tunnel.

Max: What a day in the life of our club, and for football in this country. I couldn’t think about anything else all day as we digested the news; twitter went into a frenzy and when even Channel 7 news did a story on it, then you knew this huge development had everyone’s attention. Money and success talk loudly, so to become part of a global group of clubs backed by huge resources is an incredibly exciting opportunity for the Heart and a major development for the future growth of the A-league. The true believers, ourselves included, always felt the Heart would grow into a large successful club in a sports-mad city, no one knew exactly how or when it would happen. We aren’t there yet, but undoubtedly the owners will want to make it happen sooner rather than 10 years down the track.

The main point I want to make at this early stage is that I hope the new owners make a genuine effort to take on board the views of members, i.e. some fan forums to hear our views on everything from the name of the club (I can’t believe how ready people are to dump our name and foundation identity) to how we continue with community engagement. I know the new owners can do what they like and they will make changes with a vision to attract a much bigger membership, but it does matter that the existing group of loyal fans are included in the conversation about the Heart’s new phase and identity. This is a football club, not purely a business where the employees have no option but to adopt the new owner’s brand; I was glad to hear City’s CEO Soriano say they don’t want to create a mini-Manchester City but a strong Melbourne club with its own local identity. We will have more to say on this for sure!

Melbourne’s record against Adelaide (win/draw/lose): 2/3/5

Adelaide United VS Melbourne Heart
Ash:Our 100th match celebrated with a win, now we need to break this away drought, can it be done against Adelaide? I think so.
We have had an amazing week, not just on the field but finally resolving the off the field questions. Now the team can just concentrate on the field and playing to win. Surely the club must be excited with last weeks win and now with Manchester City as the new owners. You would imagine the players will want to keep their spots in the team next year, so I am hoping for all the players to be fired up and ready to go. Would be nice to maybe see Engelaar starting this match and maybe taking a rest in the second half, we are without Williams and Gerhardt, both with ankle injuries. It will be interesting to see who JVS will use to replace the injured Gerhardt, will we see Vrankovic or Kisnorbo taking that spot?

I am hoping to see a team that will have 2 wins on the board. Go Heart!

Max: We are starting to look like a new team, although one win doesn’t change everything. More game time for Engelaar will be a sign of good progress, as would a goal from Mifsud who’s likely to play in Williams’ absence. Adelaide have got their act together and will be very tough to beat at home. I think the best we can hope for is a draw and I hope Kisnorbo gets to return to prove he can anchor the defence. Go Melbourne Heart!

My fantastic experience of seeing Heart win

I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to be a Melbourne Heart ‘bench-warming blogger’.

General Manager of Fan Engagement Dave Lyon took myself and a few others through back of house – a gymnasium, theatrette, and change rooms made up a few of the many modern facilities.

Gazing from the foot of the race, the geodesic roof was a striking image in the light of the Melbourne sunset.

The first sight I saw on the pitch was the frame of Dutch Marquee Orlando Engelaar. I was looking forward to seeing the bloke play, after a long wait!

The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter arrived soon after, flying a club member plus the match ball into the stadium.

I took my seat behind Newcastle’s bench. I had a squiz at the crowd – the numbers were displeasing to the eye. Despite this, the Yarraside Terrace was in full force.

We had just about a full-strength lineup at our disposal. Orlando Engelaar was starting on the bench, awaiting his long-due first appearance. The Newcastle United Jets on the other hand, were missing six regulars.

We were sitting at the bottom of the table. Nine losses, five draws, and no wins. And easily the lowest goal difference in the league.

Newcastle had lost their last three.

This was one of few games for which we started favourites. It was shaping up to be a good contest.

And what a cracker of a game it was.

We got off to a flyer. Harry Kewell and Iain Ramsay created a few early chances, while Newcastle seemed trapped in their search for stability.

David Williams copped a knock in a one-on-one with Mark Birighitti, forcing John van’t Schip to use one of his substitutes. Michael Mifsud replaced him.

Just as we were starting to slow up, Newcastle’s Taylor Regan opened the scoring. Aided by a precise Craig Goodwin cross, Regan scored under no pressure.

The skies opened up soon after.

That was probably our cue to switch on again – it took us under ten minutes to take the lead, via Ramsay and Mate Dugandzic.

The second of our goals was the result of a gorgeous curling cross from Aziz Behich – the Nike Strike cleared Kew Jaliens’ leap by a whisker, before entering the ideal location for a headed goal. Jaliens’ cranium was more handy in the scoring of the first; Ramsay’s strike having been ricocheted into the net.

The first 45 made for some interesting observations. van’t Schip remained composed throughout the match, contrasting Gary van Egmond’s alternative attitude.

We made our way onto the hallowed turf at the half-time interval, where we were greeted by mascot Ticker. After viewing the members’ 5-a-side contest, featuring Collingwood Magpies and Melbourne Heart member Joffa Corfe, we headed back to our seats.

van Egmond also remained on the sidelines during the break, instead of heading back to the rooms to deliver the customary spray.

It was a frenetic start to the second stanza. Andrew Redmayne and Mark Birighitti both made respective saves. Newcastle had made a couple of substitutions to try and turn the game back in their favour.

Dutch marquee Engelaar was brought on soon after, met with an approving reception. The towering midfielder made for a comic sight, when paired up with teammate Massimo Murdocca.

The tension in the air was thick as the Jets racked up a couple (more) yellow cards in as many minutes, adding on two other cautions received earlier in the match.

It didn’t take us long to capitalise on Newcastle’s lapse in concentration. A clever aerial pass courtesy of Ramsay found Dugandzic in space. Birighetti ran off his line, before leaping in expectation of a lob – Mate’s gentle stroke humbly rolled into the net.

We created further late chances though skipper Harry Kewell, Dugandzic, and Mifsud. A Newcastle shot on goal, this time by debutant Nick Ward, was again saved by Redmayne, who ended the match with an equal season-high six saves.

Dugandzic was taken off in the 84th minute, and was met with a round of applause.

Another yellow card for the Jets was produced as injury time was about to begin. Engelaar took the resulting free kick, though was unable to capitalise.

The four minutes of added time were uneventful. Alan Milliner blew his whistle to indicate the conclusion of the match, and our quest for a win was satisfied.

The post-match scenes were incredible – every supporter was elation. Melbourne Heart staff on the sidelines were animated with elation. Our players embraced with relief.

The celebration was incredible viewed from ground level. The looks on faces at full time are something I will never forget.

Yarraside stayed in position well after the rest of the stadium had emptied, still chanting at the top of their lungs.

Iain Ramsay and Harry Kewell stuck around post-match to chat to the fans, alongside the charming Golgol Mebrahtu.

The experience then concluded – it was exceptionally rewarding.



Go Heart City!