Melbourne Heart haven’t had a better chance to end its terrible winless drought when it takes on second from bottom Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park on Friday night.
Coach John Aloisi and his playing squad go into the match against second bottom from Wellington knowing that another loss will probably mean the end of his reign as manager.
Heart have failed to win a match in the first 11 rounds of this season, in fact, the club has not taken three points since it beat Sydney FC in round 22 last February, the back end of the 2012-13 season.
John Aloisi has faced much scrutiny the last six weeks from media but he is confident his side will get there first win of the season despite having key defender Patrick Kisnorbo out through suspension.
“It’s a big one, it’s a must-win game. We feel that we can beat Wellington, although we know they are a decent side with good players.
“In the first 20 minutes [against Victory] I thought we were playing well up to the sending-off, and the boys kept on fighting right to the end when we went down to 10 men.
“It was disappointing to lose it, but now we have to focus on Wellington and make sure we come out playing the same way as we did in the first 20 minutes against Victory.”
Star player Harry Kewell went off in that game, his first start since the round-one draw with Victory, around the hour mark, but Aloisi said he would be fine to start against Wellington.
“Harry pulled up OK. He got a knock on his knee that was a bit swollen for a couple of days, but he’s trained for the rest of the week. Everyone else is ready to go.”
Patrick Gerhardt will be the obvious replacement for the suspended Kisnorbo, but other than that, there will be no other changes to Heart’s starting line-up.
“We can only control what we can, and perform well and make sure we don’t do anything silly to get red cards or make mistakes as we have made. We must try and punish teams when we are on top of them.”
Nick Kalmar has been impressive coming off the bench for the Heart and his bright performances haven’t gone unnoticed by coach John Aloisi.
“I thought Nicky Kalmar did well in that position (played more withdrawn in midfield), he gave us a lot of options playing out and he’s comfortable on the ball. He combines well with Harry,” Aloisi said.
After the derby defeat against Melbourne Victory, John Aloisi copped more criticism from the media and also from Fox Sports Pundit Mark Bosnich who stated that Aloisi should consider resigning.
“I am not a quitter, I love this job, I love working with the boys … I won’t quit and I haven’t spoken to anyone about anyone else.
“I love it [coaching] more now than at the start. It’s a tough situation, it’s frustrating when you are not getting the results you want, but it’s making the team stronger when we do work through it and us coaches will be stronger for it.
“The players still believe in what we are doing, that’s the main thing, and when you believe that you are still motivated and go out there and try to perform. If you look the other night things didn’t go our way and the players kept going with 10 men.
“We know we have played good games and can turn the corner easily with one win. Morale is still high, we believe we can be a force this year.
“I have told them to play without fear, like we did in the first 20 minutes of the derby. If we play that way we will get the result we need against Wellington.”
Wellington travels to Melbourne coming off its first win of the season against Sydney FC last week.
Like Heart, Wellington Phoenix have played very well at various points this season but have enjoyed little luck, although Ernie Merrick’s side will be without forward Paul Ifill, who sustained a severe Achilles tendon injury in the Sydney game and will be out for up to 12 months.