Mindset change key to Heart recovery
John van 't Schip says salvaging something from Heart's season will be a tougher task than overseeing the fledgling club's introduction to the competition.
John van 't Schip says salvaging something from Melbourne Heart's nightmare 2013-14 A-League season will be a tougher task than overseeing the fledgling club's introduction to the competition.
The Dutchman was the inaugural coach of Victoria's newest top-flight club, leading them into the finals at the end of their second season before leaving to pursue other opportunities.
Parachuted back in to the top job following the sacking of his successor, John Aloisi, van 't Schip is under no illusions about the scale of the task now facing him, with the Heart still winless after 12 matches.
"I think so," he said when asked if restoring morale among a shattered playing group will be harder than guiding them in their first A-League steps back in 2010-11.
"Because, look at the situation we're in. When you start as a new club that's different. You're new, everybody looks at you a different way.
"Now we're already a couple of seasons further (along) and being in this situation doesn't make it easy for everybody. For the fans of course, for the club. But it's what it is and we have to face it. And work on it and try to get out of it as soon as possible."
Van 't Schip believes the key to turning around the Heart's fortunes will be to liberate the players mentally.
"For the players it's now important to get some results, to win games. But most importantly to start playing more free football," he said.
"The mindset has to change, in enjoying being on the pitch and expressing yourself as an individual and as a team. That's something that maybe the last few months, because of the results, because of the pressure, got into the players' (heads) and they didn't perform as they can."
As if matters were not bad enough for the Heart, they must play three of the next four games away from home, having not won outside Victoria since December 2011.
Undeterred, van 't Schip's mind is already examining potential solutions to the Heart's away blues.
"I have a lot of ideas, but I have to find the right one," he said.
"We have to have a breakthrough, and I think we can easily have it away. I'm not scared of the (fixture) program. You have to deal with it ... and that's what we're going to do."
His challenge starts with a trip to face the Central Coast Mariners on Sunday.