Melbourne Heart FC v Newcastle Jets FC, Sat Nov 24 Bubbledome.
If Sigmund Freud had written Country and Western songs he might have penned a little polka, ‘Your Schizophrenic Heart’. And latter-day, wanna-be Nick Hornby’s could have cited the song as a way to convey the inexplicable experience of watching Melbourne Heart FC play football: shit one week; sugar the next.
But he didn’t. And so we must try to dissect the Heart unaided by cultural analogy to work out just where they are going wrong.
Like a cracked record I keep repeating my diagnosis:
- They are good and largely steady at the back – though odd lapses means that a largely underworked Bolton is yet to keep a clean sheet this season. The goal by Adelaide last week was plain dumb deflected luck – albeit assisted by a poor pass from Colosimo, whose probably damaged brains were being kept in place by 6000 stitches in his head and a big fuck-off bandage administered early in the game.
- They are solid coming out from midfield. Thompson is good and Gerhardt understands his role in getting the team moving forward from the back. Behich is vital and provides energetic inspiration from left back. At least two goals this season have been direct results of his gutsy efforts.
- “Now we have the ball up this end (ie the front third), what do we do with it?” seems to be the regular cry of the Heart attacking midfielders and forwards. Only Victory and Roar have felt the power of a pumping Heart that has been able to move the energy all the way up the field. Other games Heart has been a headless and scoreless chook. Last week by all reports, Heart was pathetic.
This game will be the first chance to see the now-settled Garcia team up with a fresh Fred returning from injury. Their combination and precisely where they are deployed on the field will be the keys to whether Heart can get a result. If Aloisi gets the planning right and the players are committed we could be in for a cracker.
Not having seen Newcastle play this season and only having heard of one item of interest emanating from the Hunter (Heskey Time™), the only observation I can make is that Newcastle have also not yet kept a clean sheet, being even more porous than Heart. The loss of well-performed goalkeeper Mark Birighitti will only make the Jets’ net look all the more inviting for the Heart forwards. At the other end Heskey’s failure to score last week in a bad loss to Phoenix may well have piqued his (and his team’s) appetite for goals.
So the game is poised and goals are likely. Judging by the stats, Heart are due to score two goals and the Jets three but I can’t see Bolton picking the ball out of his net three times – that way madness lies.