Playing long balls into empty space since 2012.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Heart on line in race to bottom

My preview that appeared in yesterday's Goal! Weekly. Glad my prediction was way off and that I worked the words Oedipal and frissons in.

Melbourne Heart FC v Brisbane Roar FC, Fri Nov 9 AAMI Stadium.

It’s probably too early for dire predictions but Melbourne Heart needs to produce some quality soon or face the prospect of playing catch-up football for the rest of the season. A loss to Brisbane Roar in the upcoming bottom-of-the-table clash would see Heart firmly ensconced at the wrong end with daylight and not goal difference separating it from the teams above.

Brisbane Roar has no basis for smugness either. Its own woeful run of results was only interrupted by the demolition of Victory at Lang Park in Round 2, the week after Heart’s derby win. Perhaps the Heart and Roar supporters could get a collective chant going, “Melbourne Victory: Can we play you every week?” Having said that, I get the feeling that Ange’s new improved team would fare slightly better against both cellar dwellers now the season is starting to get into swing and his team is beginning to click.

Clicking is not the problem for either of these teams. Heart has demonstrated how well it can fire time and again without being able to sustain its efforts or put the ball in the net very often. Last week against Wanderers it showed in the second half the kind of attractive football of which it is capable. But in the end a marvellous volleyed goal to Tadic was all the team had to show from its sporadic good work.

Heart defends well and also plays the ball out from the back reasonably well. It just loses its way as the goals near with a midfield that just doesn’t seem to work effectively and hard enough to get the job done. Coach John Aloisi must be sweating on the impending inclusion of Vinnie Grella to give his midfield the kind of creativity, energy and solidity it needs. And let’s face it, a midfield composed of Grella, Garcia, Fred, with Thompson and Dugandzic as a supporting cast intimates rich possibilities. Up front, Tadic, Macallister and Williams have all shown they can find the net. Let’s see how they go when this midfield gives them decent, frequent supply.

I haven’t had the opportunity to see Roar play this year but my sense is that they have been resting on their laurels to some extent. Last year’s grand final and this year’s Oedipal smashing of Postecoglou’s team have perhaps left the team a little too self-satisfied. Wanderers took the game to them in Brisbane and it sounded as if they had no response to the new team’s energy and commitment. Moreover, Roar’s guns have failed to fire. Over recent weeks Broich and Berisha have had nothing like the impact they and coach Vidošić might have liked.

Again it is way too early to panic but Vidošić must be starting feel the frissons of doubt creeping into his thinking.

After round 1 this season, this game held the promise of Australia’s best and most attractive team over the past two years taking on a good hard-working team capable of producing its own brand of excitement and flair.

Apparently a month is a long time in football and what seems to be in store is a desperate struggle not to lose.

We’ll see.

KOD: Heart 1 Brisbane 1.

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