Starting with the wooden spooners, From The Stands reviews the performances of each club throughout the 2013-14 A-League season.
From injuries to key player to managerial dismissals, Melbourne Heart’s season was dismal at best. While they might not have improved drastically from last season’s results, Heart managed to claim several high profile scalps. Inconsistency, especially at the front-end of the season, ultimately cost Heart a stab a finals football.
In spite of that, Van’t Schip’s arrival has turned the club’s fortunes around. And with Manchester City investing heavily on the club, a lot will be expected of the Heart next season. Indeed, the future is bright.
For the bulk of the season, John Aloisi steered the Melbourne Heart ship through very troubled waters. When released of his duties, the team was not playing utterly terrible football, however, they were on the verge of making A-League history almost breaking the record for most games without a win.
Injuries, and bad luck played their part, but the decision to appoint such an inexperienced manager would ultimately cost the Melbourne Heart any chance of finals football. The return of John Van’t Schip produced some great football for the fans who stuck by the club, but sadly it was only short lived; the team faded and were awarded their first ever wooden spoon.
Marquees & Best Players
Australian Marquee – David Williams
Five goals in three games not only gave his team three wins on the bounce but threw his name up in the mix for World Cup selection. Williams produced the form that earned him the original marquee contract. Unfortunately, his teammates around him failed to rise to a similar level.
Scoring 12 goals for the season, Williams provided an attacking option for both coaches during the season; his performances was the reason the turnstiles continued to tick over.
Note: Williams has signed on a non marquee contract for the next two seasons with the club.
International Marquee – Orlando Engelaar
A devastating pre-season injury saw the Dutch international miss the first 14 rounds of the season. Upon his return, Engelaar was quick to produce a quality highlights package for either A-League network and remind everyone the very reason he was recruited. His goal from halfway will be his mark that he leaves on the league but the 196cm midfielder was more than a one trick pony.
Note: Engelaar is currently out of contract with Heart.
Best and Worst Performance
Best – A 4-0 destruction of rivals Melbourne Victory was the highlight of the season, and possibly the highlight of their four year history. Two goals in each half saw a dominant Heart put Victory to the sword for a very enjoyable evening. The icing on the cake was a superb Harry Kewell strike which sent the vocal Heart crowd into wonderland. This was the fifth win in as many matches.
Worst – With their season on the line, Heart failed to show any determination against a ten man Wellington. Wellington almost snatched a win, even playing with 10 men for 60 minutes, that’s how deplorable Heart was on the day.
Finishing last for the first time is never a good thing for any club, but this season it was more about how the season ended. Two points in the final six matches was probably a true reflection of the season, showing how far off the pace the team were. The only two points won by the team in the last 6 weeks was playing against 10 men. Four home crowds of less than 6,000 and one of 6,002 is a huge concern.
Harry Kewell left the football pitch for the last time, but if Orlando Engelaar doesn’t sign up for next season; he also will be a key loss. Both gave the team great experience this season, but Engelaar produced those magical moments and managed to provide the spark to his team.
A name and colour change has been the talk of town since Premier League giants Manchester City took control of the team. Aaron Mooy has reportedly signed for the club as the Australian marquee and a new international marquee could be on the cards. Season 2014/15 is the great unknown for Heart fans, but could be the most exciting chapter in the club’s short history.
F – A failure mark may seem harsh on Heart but the club went backwards this season, and if it wasn’t for the Manchester City acquisition, the club would be in some serious trouble. The form of Jason Hoffman and the improvement of youngsters Stefan Mauk and Ben Garrucio were small highlights for the club, but a stark improvement next season is required.
Home Wins – 36%
Most Minutes – Massimo Murdocca 2,334
Most Goals – David Williams 12
Most Starts – 26 Massimo Murdocca
Most Bookings – 7 Aziz Behich
Most Appearances as a Substitute – 13 Kalmar and Mauk