Melbourne Heart FC Head Coach John van ‘t Schip provides an update of the latest news from his scouting trip through Europe.
The last two months I have spent scouting in Europe have passed so quickly that I can-t believe I will be returning to Melbourne so soon.
Since leaving Australia, I have had the opportunity to watch matches in many leagues, including the Eredivisie in Holland and La Liga in Spain, to see whether there were players with the quality and sense of adventure to play in the A-League.
This has led to discussions with some players who have shown an interest in the A-League. Through these meetings, I have developed the belief that players are really opening up to the opportunity of playing down under, with the performances of the Socceroos and the reputation of players like Robbie Fowler lifting the league-s profile.
As I have explained in the past, I hope to implement a 4-3-3 formation derived from my time at Ajax, which has since been adopted by a number of clubs throughout the world, including FC Barcelona.
And last week, I had the great opportunity of watching Barca play against Sevilla in the fifth round of the Copa del Rey at Camp Nou.
While Barca lost the game 2-1, the quality of the side was obvious to see, with off-ball movement, one-touch passing and an overall style of play of the very highest class.
I noticed a certain player in particular who seemed to impress. He was wearing the number 10, but I am unsure whether we would have the budget to pay his wages under the salary cap. Or maybe we could use him as the marquee player!
I was also hoping to attend the Catalonia vs Argentina clash in late December, but unfortunately, the European winter snowed me in and prevented any travel. The match was Johan Cruyff-s long awaited return to the coach-s technical area after an incredible 13 years, with Catalonia emerging triumphant 4-2.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Dean Heffernan and Matt Thompson for earning selection to the Qantas Socceroos for their match against Kuwait.
The standard and intensity of international football is far higher than what is faced at club level, and is a real test of every player-s ability. Hopefully Matt and Dean will be able to draw from the experience when playing for our Club next season.
Yours in football,
John van ‘t Schip