John Aloisi to be given baptism of fire
John Aloisi - Melbourne Heart. Slattery Images.
We all remember John Aloisi for his famous penalty kick to seal qualification to the 2006 World Cup. This moment has been replayed on television screens to the extent that we no longer get excited about it (okay, maybe just a little).
Since his penalty and goal scoring exploits against Japan in the group stages in Germany, our Johnny boy has come a long way. Six years on, John Aloisi is now in the Melbourne Heart hot seat.
The question now is simple. Can an inspirational Socceroo transcend to an inspirational manager?
There are only a few more sleeps before the A-League season kicks off on Friday night. It will be a momentous occasion, with the Melbourne derby at Etihad Stadium igniting the most highly anticipated A-League season yet.
Etihad Stadium will resemble a fiery inferno with the battle of the fans rivalling the fierce coaching battle on the sidelines.
For a Melbourne Heart fan, this is a very daunting prospect. Coming up against our rivals at Etihad Stadium has left many of us with sleepless nights. The Melbourne Victory have made all the noise in the off season with the recruitment of former Brisbane Roar championship winning manager Ange Postecoglou and Johnny Warren medal winner Marcos Flores.
The Melbourne Heart has made some shrewd signings in the off season themselves, with former Socceroo Richard Garcia perhaps the most exciting. Liberian Patrick Gerhadt looks a very solid defensive player and Croatian Josip Tadic could provide a real wildcard.
Having inspirational captain Fred fitter and firing could prove the most effective match to Marcos Flores’ own brilliance.
However it is the tactical battle on the sidelines that has the Melbourne Heart faithful fearful of what is to come.
The bookies also believe this is the area where the Heart will be caught out, with odds of $3.75 for the boys in red and white hardly exhibiting confidence. Melbourne Victory is under $2.00 with most betting agencies, which is accurate on pre-season performances.
The Melbourne derby will be the classic battle between the seasoned professional against the up and coming rookie coach, who is yet to command respect in the local game.
Ange has all but mastered his ‘false nine’ game plan in the off season, with the Victory looking exceptionally smooth with Finkler, Flores and Thompson all operating in a versatile front line.
While at present, Melbourne Heart fans are currently unsure what Socceroo legend John Aloisi is exactly trying to orchestrate for the boys in red and white. His tactics so far have been trying to emulate that of inaugural coach John van ‘t Schip, however defensive fragilities have been ever present. The most recent 5-0 trouncing at the hands of Perth Glory has instilled little confidence thus far.
Ange believes in an attacking game plan, yet this is moulded from a highly fit, mobile and disciplined back line. The defence are able to get forward only if their defensive game is sound; the Heart defenders have been ignorant to their defensive duties thus far in pre-season.
Still applying a Dutch 4-3-3 system, Aloisi has tried to replicate the blueprint handed down to him by former Dutch manager John Van Schip. The Dutch model seems to have been handed down as gospel for the Heart. Possession and playing out of the defence remains the core component of the game, with full backs encouraged to get forward and offer width from the wings.
John’s football knowledge will be put to the ultimate test against the all-knowing Ange Postecoglou.
In the dressing room, John Aloisi has to develop his own authority, respect will not be given solely on his accolades and standing as a Socceroo great. This may have worked for the bunch of kids he led in the National Youth League, but the A-League is an entirely different prospect.
Ange has earned the respect from the playing group through decades in the local system. John Aloisi has to create his own dynasty and way to keep control of the locker room.
Ange was never fearful to drop players out of form in his tenure at the Brisbane Roar; it is this ruthlessness that John Aloisi must learn to embrace. John cannot simply pull out a poster of himself for inspiration; he needs to be brutal in battle to lead his troops.
While I have perhaps been harsh on this former Socceroo great, this scepticism is justified when more credentialed candidates such as Ante Millicic were overlooked for the man who sent us to Germany in 2006. John Aloisi is no doubt a brilliant media performer; however he must translate this to the sidelines.
The cliché dream of a favourite son becoming a successful manager has often blind sighted the board of football clubs all over the world, it is the story they are being sold, rather than the quality of their managerial ability. Alan Shearer, Paul Ince and even the recent return of Kenny Dalglish have been prime examples of head over heart recruiting.
Let’s hope more time is given for John to exert his own ideology and game plan, as the favourite son trend doesn’t seem to last long in football.
We as supporters must keep the faith, after all, the season is yet to start, but this pessimism is justified as this derby is well and truly a David and Goliath battle. The master versus the apprentice is an enticing prospect on its own, coupled with John Aloisi’s famous words that a ‘hate’ should develop between these rivals has offered up a Hollywood script for the season opener.
My membership has arrived and we can all get behind John Aloisi.
What am I predicting? Plenty of fireworks in an exciting draw.