With just weeks left at Melbourne Heart’s helm, coach John van `t Schip admits he would be disappointed to depart the club without leaving the legacy of an A-League finals campaign.
The Dutchman will leave at the end of a season he hopes will extend beyond the next two matches into finals – though it is heavily dependent on beating Sydney FC at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
Van `t Schip and football manager John Didulica have been the prime movers in building the fledgling club’s squad, playing style and culture since the Heart entered the league last season.
And it has translated into scintillating football this season, mixed with a good amount of frustration at missed opportunities.
The Heart will ensure finals football if they beat Sydney FC, but could miss the top six altogether if beaten by the seventh-placed team.
Van `t Schip admits it would be disappointing not to make the finals with a team which has been as high as second this season and had a home final within sight until a 1-1 draw with Wellington Phoenix last week.
“Building up the club was a great challenge and it was a great honour to be a part of it,” van `t Schip said.
“After the first year, and this year making really good steps bringing in young players and the way of playing, I would be disappointed (if Heart missed the finals).
“If we get into the finals, it would be great for the club, for the history of the club, and it would also be great for a coach.”
The Heart will have a full squad of players to choose from, including playmaker Fred, whose hamstring niggle last weekend was not serious.
Lack of cutting edge in the front third has hurt the Heart all season, but van `t Schip says the fact the club have their finals destiny still in their hands means there can be no excuses.
“At the end you have to make sure you are in the finals because all the other teams have the same story,” van `t Schip said.
“They all have their good moments and their moments when things are not going that well. You have to make sure at the end of the season you are in the right position.
“It is no use to say `we were playing good’.
“At the end if you are not there, the ladder will tell everything.”