Kewell facing Heart question ahead of Brazil
Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi and new captain Harry Kewell. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)
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One of Australia’s finest sporting exports has been the subject of much conjecture surrounding his motivation for returning to the A-League.
Before we examine an older and more mature Harry Kewell mindset, let’s analyse his new club’s big decision.
At 34 years of age, his career is coming to an end, yet the Melbourne Heart have elected one of Australia’s golden boys as skipper.
For a player with a wealth of experience on the international and UEFA Champions League stage on the surface it looks like a shrewd decision.
However, when you consider he’s only just walked in the door and been handed a leading role, it becomes an affront to the hard-working Heart players who are already assimilated into the organisation.
Simply put, Harry does not represent the ethos of the club by merely rocking up to AAMI Park.
Endearing yourself to your team takes time, however, such is the aura of the man that he’s afforded that respect automatically.
On the other hand, is it perhaps a marketing ploy?
And perhaps it’s a wise move, considering the club’s low profile and need for financial injection.
Or a clear attempt for Kewell to try and help create an identity for a club in an extremely competitive sporting market in Australia.
In what will be Kewell’s maiden season with the club it will be the first time captaining a side at club level, and the veteran is extremely ambitious about the season ahead.
“I know what I want to achieve and that’s the title,” Kewell said after the official announcement of his captaincy.
No one can blame his sentiment, regardless of whether the squad are not capable of achieving such a feat.
Kewell has big ambitions for a club that finished ninth last season.
“I know what I want to achieve and that’s the title,” Kewell told reporters.
“I dream big, I think big, so that’s what I want to achieve.”
Is he thinking nine months down the track?
The A-League has become the perfect springboard for Socceroos selection at a junior level, and it’s also now one that Holger Osieck is monitoring more than ever before.
Can you blame a man with the technical ability to fit seamlessly into the national side when fit and on form?
In his first official Heart press conference he looked trim, and spoke about how he had been working hard in his own private time.
“I feel like I’m 27 again,” Kewell said.
That comment had all the makings of a flippant remark, after all this is a man who has endured a series of debilitating injuries during his career.
But the vibrancy he emitted was in itself more than enough to suggest that this was potentially the makings of a rejuvenated man who has unfinished business.
The talk of pursuing another birth at Rio 2014 was naturally the main focus when he walked through the door at AAMI Park in early July.
Kewell was coy when questions were aimed at him about a coveted position in the national team.
“First and foremost I want to play good football for the Melbourne Heart,” he said then.
Fast-forward two months and Kewell was playing a distinctly different stance, admitting he wanted to give himself every opportunity to claim a spot in Osieck’s squad before June next year.
Now, one must ask if that was the primary reason for signing on with the Melbourne Heart.
The simple answer would now appear to be a resounding ‘yes’, so what does implications does that have on the club?
If things go pear-shaped and Kewell’s form is sluggish midway through the A-League term, will that affect the Heart’s overall team play?
Can Heart fans actually expect to see a team player on the pitch or someone playing with a degree of selfishness, fuelled by a personal ambition?
The proof will be in the pudding soon enough.
Now, all Kewell has to do is construct the perfect balancing act that will allow the former Leeds and Liverpool star to appease his employers and the Australian public.
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