Heart starting to pump

Melbourne Heart coach John van 't Schip believes his team is getting stronger every week after their ordinary start to the season but warned the red-and-whites required further improvement before they took 'the next step'.

Melbourne Heart coach John van 't Schip believes his team is getting stronger every week after their ordinary start to the season but warned the red-and-whites required further improvement before they took "the next step".

Since starting the campaign with two losses, the Heart have been undefeated in their last five matches and more importantly recorded their first wins of the campaign in their past two outings.

But while the last month-and-a-bit have been promising, van 't Schip said more patience and improved ball control would be key if the Heart wanted to improve on their 2010-11 finish and challenge for a possible finals spot come March.

"We showed in the last five games that we are a team that's getting stronger and stronger with (every) week," he said.

"With the two wins now, that gives a lot of confidence to the boys even though we had to change a lot (of personnel) in the last game (against Gold Coast) compared to the game of Newcastle."

"That's a very good sign that as a squad we're getting stronger, the depth that we have we can use and seeing that all the boys are getting better and better."

"We have less ball possession but we are more direct in our attacking and if we can manage to get more ball possession, to be more patient, to control the game more then we can become even better and stronger than last year."

"But it's important if we really want to make the big next step that we have to control the games more and then you need to have the ball longer in the possession and choose the moments that you can play the ball in between instead of getting the ball back and we often lose it too quick after so you don't get a steady base of playing."

Van 't Schip won't have to wait long to see what his improved team is made of with their biggest test of the season coming up on Saturday in the form of the second-placed Mariners in Gosford.

"The Mariners are getting back into their shape of last year (when they made the grand final)," van 't Schip said.

"They had a slow start but seeing them play last week against Sydney, I thought that was the best Mariners we've seen until now this year."

The Heart coach said he wouldn't tinker with the team's formation against Central Coast despite the Mariners' arsenal of attacking options such as Matt Simon, Bernie Ibini-Isei and Daniel McBreen.

"Of course playing three or four in the back is a difference (but) what I said is that when the opponent has the ball, then of course you have to be aware of that and you always have to change and have the discipline to track your opponent," he said.

"But when we have the ball we try to go back into our formation of playing, so that doesn't change."