New Melbourne Heart boss John van’t Schip is returning to lift the A-League’s worst side to the finals.
Formally announced as John Aloisi’s successor for the rest of the season on Monday afternoon, van’t Schip made the lofty declaration of ambition in conversations with the club over the weekend.
The foundation Heart boss has form – he led the club to its only finals appearance in his second season in charge.
Walking away from the role for “personal and professional” reasons after that game – a loss to Perth Glory in April 2012 – van’t Schip has since managed leading Mexican club Chivas and returned to Heart as a part-time technical manager in August this year.
Chief executive Scott Munn said van’t Schip was hungrier than ever following his spell with Chivas, but did not expect this level of ambition.
“John made it clear to me he was coming here to make the finals,” Munn said.
“He’s coming here thinking he’s got the talent to do it.”
Echoing a call from club chairman Peter Sidwell that Heart hadn’t given up on playing finals this season, van’t Schip confirmed as much himself.
“Melbourne Heart is a club that means a lot to me and deserves to be challenging for the finals,” he said in a club statement.
“I firmly believe we can turn the current situation around and produce some good results. There is still a lot of time left this season to change things and I am confident that we have a squad that can do that.”
Heart lie bottom with no wins and four draws from 12 games, six points from second last Wellington and 12 points from a finals berth.
Van’t Schip’s return to the club was confirmed two days after the axing of John Aloisi on Saturday.
With Heart football operations boss John Didulica, Munn prepared a number of options for the board’s consideration, including alternative targets as interim coach.
Munn said van’t Schip’s primary strengths were the stability he offered, his existing knowledge of the club and his tactical ability.
Van’t Schip will arrive in Melbourne in time for the club’s Friday training session and will travel with the squad for their match against Central Coast Mariners on Sunday.
The Heart will now begin a search for a long-term manager for the 2014/15 season onwards.
JOHN VAN’T SCHIP FACTFILE
Netherlands national team – 41 caps, 2 goals
1981-1992 – Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands
1992-1995 – Genoa, Italy
2001-03 FC Twente, Netherlands
2009 – Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands
2010-2012 – Melbourne Heart
2012-2013 – Chivas, Mexico
2014 – Melbourne Heart
Also assistant coach to Marco van Basten for the Netherlands national side.