It would be mighty difficult to find an Australian football fan who dislikes John Aloisi. The reasons why are fairly simple and threefold.
The 45-year-old is responsible for one of the most vividly memorable Socceroos moments when he scored that penalty. He also played out a stellar international club career in Belgium, England, Spain and Italy and comes across a decent and passionate person.
In addition, a long and decorated period in Australian domestic football as well as a Socceroos career that brought 55 caps and 27 goals would see anyone silly enough to besmirch the proud South Australian as a player shut down in an instant by those who witnessed his abilities.
However, managing a football team takes ex-players into other realms, where their skills as players provide no guarantee of success and the subsequent critiquing of their leadership is fair fodder, in what will always be the game of opinions.
As such, the decision made by Western United to sign Aloisi on a deal to manage its A-League squad for the next two seasons appears somewhat hopeful, full of unwarranted trust and potentially wrong.
With Alen Stajcic rumoured to be in discussions with the club and his stunningly successful season at the Central Coast Mariners still vivid in the minds of all A-League fans, it is curious as to why the suits at Western United chose to hitch their wagon with a man who has done little but fail in his domestic managerial career.
Quite frankly, there is no doubt that John Aloisi could play, he proved that in spades. But can he manage? Anyone who suggests he most certainly can might do best to check the records before feeling so convinced of that fact.
In his first senior coaching position, Aloisi managed just eight wins from 39 matches with the then Melbourne Heart. The tenure lasted 18 months and connects the two lowest end-of-season ladder positions ever achieved by the club and Aloisi’s management.
A year and a half later, Brisbane Roar saw fit to lure Aloisi north for the 2015-16 season. With Jamie Maclaren knocking goals away at a rate of knots over his first two seasons at the helm, two third-placed finishes had some believing that the new mentor was building a considerable reputation as one of the best domestic managers in the league.
Sadly, things fell away very quickly and by the time of his resignation early in the 2018-19 season, Aloisi had Brisbane well and truly set on a path towards its most disappointing season on record: a ninth-placed finish, with just four wins and 71 conceded efforts on goal.
It was un-Roar-like after its golden period of success under Ange Postecoglou and despite a host of challenging circumstances that all coaches face, Aloisi had clearly shown that at that particular point in time, he was not up to the task when it came to taking the reins at an A-League club and achieving success.
It provides no pleasure to say so, but with a two-from-two strike rate, it appeared likely that the man destined to be remembered for that famous and inspiring moment on November 16 2005, may well have taken his last shot at the coaching ranks.
Since, Aloisi has indeed branched elsewhere, with Optus Sport using his knowledge and credibility in the game to engage with a domestic audience during its extensive football coverage.
Yet now, he is back and ready to take the helm at a club desperately looking for leadership after the departure of its inaugural manager Mark Rudan. Whether he is ready for or up to the challenge is anyone’s guess.
Still a developing organisation, the best thing that could happen to Western United would be an extended period of stability.
After an inspiring first season, Rudan’s men lost their way in 2021 and a mutual termination of the club-manager relationship has presented the opportunity for Aloisi to return to a job he clearly desires.
Whether the man who finished his playing career with Sydney FC is to be the source of such stability appears unlikely based on his record.
Although, should a few seasons out of the cut and thrust of competition prove the perfect reinvigoration for a man obviously wounded by his early journeys into coaching, Western United may well have picked themselves up a long-term and successful manager to guide the club into the next phase of its existence.
Everyone in Australian football will no doubt wish him all the best in doing so, however personally, it seems like a long and unreliable bow to draw.