Two tales of one city
With two new coaches at the helm, this Melbourne derby is a tale of two very different teams that share one all too common adversary: pressure.
This Melbourne Derby is a tale of two very different teams that share one all too common adversary.
Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart head into the season opener with a new coach at the helm. Not any old gaffer though, both Melbourne clubs have placed their faith in men who are icons of Australian football.
In accepting the jobs on offer, Ange Postecoglou and John Aloisi have put their own considerable reputations on the line.
And whilst coping with pressure is a trademark for these men, this challenge is set to take the barometer to a whole new level.
Victory's successful capture of dual Brisbane Roar title winning coach Ange Postecoglou is an appointment made in the clubs' own image.
Victory sees itself as The Hyundai A League's blue chip franchise. Though last years' season of discontent saw its stocks take a battering, the appointment of Postecoglou was a statement of intent.
Victory wants it's seat at the head of the table back.
There are no guarantees though. Granted, Postecoglou is uncompromising and single minded in his pursuit of excellence, but whether a playing group that seemed so rudderless last term is capable of meeting his exacting demands will be fascinating to watch.
In Brisbane he quickly determined that his senior players weren't up to the challenge he laid out for them and he ruthlessly and efficiently moved them on.
Vindication came with the success that followed.
Now ensconced in Melbourne, an impatient Victory fan base will be less inclined to endure a period of readjustment like the one Postecoglou instituted north of The Tweed.
They'll be particularly restless if Melbourne Victory's renovation blues coincide with a resurgent Sydney FC led by the arrival of global superstar Allesandro Del Piero.
If that occurs, the heat will be on, and the chorus will be growing for Ange Postecoglou to deliver his brighter tomorrow today.
Meanwhile, John Aloisi ascension to the top job with Heart is an affirmation that the football philosophy inaugural boss Jon Van Schip laid as the foundation stone of the clubs' character is to be nurtured and cultivated.
Aloisi learnt his craft under Van Schip's tutelage. Continuity and conviction underpin his appointment. These are the sort of values that The Heart's backers hope will provide a formula for success.
Heart needs a point of difference if it is to flourish within the shadow of its overbearing neighbor. Aloisi is seen as the keeper of the flame.
As a player, pressure proved no stumbling block for him. No one needs reminding about that penalty kick.
Now though, he's on the other side of the white line where what he can control ends with the referee's whistle at the start of the game. It's a very different challenge, no longer being able to perform great deeds but to engineer and inspire them and then leave them to be executed by others.
How he copes with the days when that fails (and there are bound to be a few of those) will be fascinating to watch.
Aloisi heads up an extended "coaching panel" that includes former Socceroo Hayden Foxe and former AIS head coach Ron Smith as technical director.
It's the most unusual arrangement in the Hyundai A League.
Football clubs traditionally succeed with a vertical hierarchy. The Boss stands and falls by his own hand. Coaching by committee is fraught with the danger of division, mixed messages and parallel agendas.
Depending on your point of view, it's either a bold innovation or sign of dithering a doubt on the ability of the new coach to do the job.
I for one see it very much in keeping with The Heart's determination to do things not as others expect, but as they would like.
A leap of faith it may be, but maybe crash through or crash is what it might take for Melbourne Heart to really start pumping.
The views expressed in this article are purely those of the author and do not reflect those of FFA or the Hyundai A-League.
The Hyundai A-League 2012/13 season kicks off on Friday 5 October with the season-s first Melbourne derby at Etihad Stadium. Click here for tickets to all the matches.