Making the finals in just their second season is an achievement Melbourne Heart should be proud of.
Season two for Melbourne Heart was all about continuing to build for the future and they certainly took things up a notch under the guidance of John van ‘t Schip.
The Dutchman taking his well-blended side all the way to the finals in just their second season and while they were bundled out early at the hands of the rampant Perth Glory, it-s an achievement that shouldn-t be dismissed, especially when you consider that before the squad was gutted due to players being called up for Qantas Australian Under 23s duty and inspirational captain Fred got injured they were sitting as high as second on the ladder.
Add to that the fact that the team only failed to collect points eight times throughout the season and it shows that this Melbourne side has heart and is a team that will only get better.
34 goals conceded at 1.2 per game is a pretty decent record and while Clint Bolton had a lot to do with that so did a well-balanced defence.
Having Simon Colosimo and Adrian Madaschi there for the better part of the season instilled confidence in some of the younger players.
Aziz Behich continued to improve and showed plenty of flair as an attacking wing-back creating plenty of opportunities and giving assists, especially early on in the season, but the real revelation was rookie, Curtis Good.
The 19-year-old played 25 games in the season and performed so well that in his first year of professional football he managed to attract the interest of potentially UEFA Champions League bound giants Newcastle United, where he has since impressed in a trial.
In short it-s been quite the rise to fame for him.
Season 2011/12 saw the Heart get the balance right in the midfield. The experience came with players like Fred and Matt Thompson, while Kristian Sarkies and Rutger Worm brought flair and dash.
Then the likes of Hoffman and Germano brought the exuberance of youth and in the case of the latter a little bit of South American swagger whenever he scored a goal, his dance moves a joy to watch.
While the Heart-s defence was excellent for the better part of the season attack was where they struggled, or at least they struggled to find the net. 35 goals a poor return for a top six side (only Wellington scored less) and it was Heart-s inability to score goals that ultimately cost them their season.
Eli Babalj did an admirable job in scoring nine for the season and Mate Dugandzic went through a mid season purple patch to finish the season with seven goals and seven assists, but outside of those two it was pretty slim pickings.
This is the area they need to improve in season 2012/13.
John Van ‘t Schip continued to implement a youth policy and results say he was successful, the length of the season might have hurt some of his charges but he did well to bring the side into the finals as a contender and should be proud of the effort of his team and the results he achieved here in Australia.
John van ‘t Schip: 27 games, 9 wins, 8 losses, 10 draws; 37 points from a possible 63.
Melbourne Heart Overall Grade: B