Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi has blamed himself for starting his trio of returning Socceroo players who were exposed in their 2-0 loss to Central Coast Mariners.
Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi has blamed himself for starting his trio of returning Socceroo players who were exposed in their 2-0 loss to the Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium on Friday night.
A double to Mariners defender Pedj Bojic, which included a goalkeeping howler from Clint Bolton in the 49th minute, handed the Heart their fifth loss of the season and continues their poor away form.
First-year coach Aloisi acknowledged his poor judgement in starting the Socceroo combination of Aziz Behich, Richard Garcia and Michael Marrone. The trio had played a significant role in the Socceroos' East Asian Cup qualifying campaign but were well below their best on Friday night in Gosford.
"We just looked flat from the very beginning tonight and that was probably my fault because the boys that came back from the national team weren't right, they shouldn't have played," Aloisi said.
"That's why I had to take Richie (Garcia) off at half time and when you have got two or three boys looking flat and not looking with it, it rubs off on the rest of the boys."
Aloisi admitted he thought the players struggled even in the warm-up but defended his decision to stick with his submitted line-up.
"Sometimes you don't feel so good in the warm-up but you start the game and you feel okay," he said.
"Sometimes you come back (from international duty) and you feel good and sometimes you don't. The players probably inside wanted to feel good and when they got out there they realised they probably weren't (ready)."
Aloisi didn't need much of the match to confirm his fear saying afterwards 31-year-old Garcia was gone 'after about 30 seconds, (he) couldn't breathe, (he) couldn't move.'
While Marrone performed the best of the trio, Aloisi accepted Behich was below par.
"I started him (Garcia) because I thought they would be alright they said they felt pretty fresh so I started him and Aziz. Aziz gave everything but he wasn't his normal self either," Aloisi said.
The former Socceroo striker defended goalkeeper Bolton, who let an easy save become the Mariners opening goal in the 49th minute when Bojic's speculative shot slipped through the custodian's grasp.
"Goalkeepers make mistakes. Clint has saved us on plenty of occasions. I'm not going to be to upset with him because next week he will probably win the game for us," he said.
"That's what it's like, he is a big enough (of a) person and he has been around long enough to get over this and make sure he performs next week against Victory."