An unnamed Newcastle Jets player has returned a positive test for COVID-19, just days after the A-League was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Yesterday’s announcement that John Aloisi would coach Melbourne Heart next season came as little surprise.
Ever since the news began filtering out of the club that John van’t Schip’s replacement would be either the Dutchman’s assistant Ante Milicic or Aloisi, it was likely the board would plump for the more high profile option.
The thinking is simple – the Victorian capital is a competitive sporting marketplace and local airtime has only become more cluttered in the last 12 months with the capture of Harry Kewell and Ange Postecoglou by rivals Melbourne Victory.
While there’s an argument that a smaller club like the Heart trying to achieve cut through in the AFL’s heartland might be a fool’s errand, Aloisi was the only candidate with any real chance of doing so.
Most importantly, the former Socceroos striker also has the potential to bring success to Melbourne’s red and white faithful.
One of van’t Schip’s strongest characteristics was that even the most difficult coaching decisions the A-League threw up never daunted the former Ajax manager.
As the only Australian to have played in Italy, Spain and England’s top flights, Aloisi has had similar experience at football’s high-level.
Even though the demands on a senior coach are vastly different to what he’s been through so far, Aloisi is well placed to succeed.
As a player Aloisi was the kind of professional who worked extraordinarily hard on the training pitch, squeezing every last drop of talent out of himself.
For a club who’s focus is on developing young players, the 36-year-old has the ability to be a fantastic mentor.
Even so, the parallel has been drawn between Mehmet Durakovic’s failed time at the Victory last season and Aloisi’s appointment.
Both got the senior job after just one season as National Youth League coaches yet there is a stark difference – while Durakovic was dropped into an instable environment without support, the Heart will already have plans in place to make Aloisi’s tenure a success.
The Heart’s board will also be keenly aware of how disappointed Milicic who, as arguably the better prepared of the two candidates, was very unlucky to be overlooked.
The 38-year-old has been in the Heart’s coaching system that extra bit longer, has had experience in the state league and with Australia’s national youth teams.
Yet Milicic is a consummate professional and if an opportunity doesn’t come for a head coach gig elsewhere, I’m certain he’ll continue to fulfill his role at the Heart.
In the meantime, while Aloisi’s appointment remains a risk, the thinking behind this decision can’t be faulted.