Can John Aloisi make the transition from player to first-term coach and continue Heart's progession?
In the lead up to season 2012/13, we're looking at the club coaches, their history, their challenges and what they have to do to make this season a success.
John Aloisi, Melbourne Heart
After a stellar playing career and just one season in charge of the Melbourne Heart Youth team, John Aloisi has been given his shot at the Melbourne Heart-s first team.
But the least experienced head coach in the Hyundai A-League won-t be alone; Aloisi heads up Heart-s “coaching panel”, and will be backed up by former Socceroo Hayden Foxe, former AIS head coach Ron Smith as technical director, football operations manager John Didulica and goalkeeping coaches Joey Didulica and Peter Zois.
It-s a unique set-up, and one the club hopes will guide Aloisi through his first season in charge as he learns the ropes.
Heart have worked hard on their internal structures since day one and should be applauded for promoting a new coach from within, following all the foundations laid by former boss John van -t Schip.
But there is always a risk with a novice coach. Aloisi played in the world-s best leagues but that doesn-t always translate to success in the dugout.
There is obvious pressure to succeed but few expect miracles; instead, barring any major collapses, it seems Aloisi will be given the time to grow with the club-s long-term goals.
History: As a player, Aloisi-s record is impeccable, but as a coach? In his one year with Heart-s NYL team, his side finished fifth with a distinctly average record - and that-s not meant as a criticism. Middle of the table, W7, D5, L6, 33 goals scored, 30 conceded.
But Heart-s short history is on his side, as the club look to create a logical development pathway for both players and staff. John van ‘t Schip was given time to implement his ideas; Aloisi will get the same.
Challenges: Heart have lost some excellent young talent during the off-season, with Curtis Good, Brendan Hamill, Eli Babalj, Adrian Zahra and Craig Goodwin all tempted by other offers.
Groups like that don-t come along very often, so Aloisi has opted to replenish his side with more experienced performers and a few select imports.
This means Heart will be a very different side to the vibrant but sometimes frail team that went out under Van ‘t Schip.
The big question is how Aloisi will get his team to play? Will he have a clear philosophy and effective tactics that translate to good results? Pres-season has been promising but he goes straight into the cauldron with the Melbourne derby opening season 2012/13.
Target Position: A finals berth would be a success. Heart finished sixth last season and if Aloisi can match that, it will be job done for his first season as the boss.
Final Word: John Aloisi carries a great deal of good will; a bad first season as a coach isn-t about to change that but there will still be plenty of focus on how the former Socceroo makes the transition from player to coach.
He-s lucky to be at a club that acknowledges it is still growing and doesn-t have the expectations of cross-town rivals Victory. But that isn-t to say there won-t be pressure, and Heart-s growing faithful will want to see the club-s progression continuing unhindered.