Matt’s Musings – Finals Football, What A Feeling!


It was oh, so typical of the Melbourne Heart, but John van ’t Schip has done it. Finals football, in our second season, and what a great feeling it is.

It was oh, so typical of the Melbourne Heart, but John van -t Schip has done it. Finals football, in our second season, and what a great feeling it is.

In his post match press conference after the Sydney game, van-t Schip stated that second half capitulations, such as the one that allowed Sydney FC to pull back a 2-0 half time deficit, would not see the Heart get far in this season-s finals campaigns. Given the lack of big money signings that some of the league-s other teams have made, and the emphasis on youth, just being in the finals for Melbourne is a great achievement, but van-t Schip is never one to settle for the minimum. He will be keen to try and drive his side as deep into the play-offs as possible, and for that to happen, his players will need to find consistency over a 90 minute period.

Heart have demonstrated on a number of occasions, none more so than the five-match winning streak, which was pivotal to the Heart-s qualification for finals football, that they are capable of putting in the required sort of performance. Heart grounded out tough wins away to Brisbane and Perth as a part of that crucial run of results, and with the way the table is forming ahead of the final week, it seems as though it will be the sort of performance they will have to repeat on Sunday when they launch their inaugural finals campaign in Perth against the Glory.

The Heart looked a team that was conserving their energy against Adelaide last Friday night at Hindmarsh, and to have gotten through the game unscathed can only be positive for a side who is going to need every resource at their disposal available to have any hope of a prolonged run in the 2012 A-League Finals Series. Fred is looking fresh, Behich and Marrone are as productive and robust as they were on day one, Germano is uncompromising, Thompson has been inspirational and Eli Babalj just cannot stop scoring.

If ever there was a time for all the pieces to come together once more, it is now, and although the results have not necessarily matched the level of performance, it seems only a matter of time before it all comes together.

The pieces are well and truly in place, and as John van-t Schip prepares for his swansong as Melbourne Heart-s first ever manager, he will be quietly confident of his chances of pulling off a massive upset on Sunday.

Perth are the favourites, and rightly so, but it is hard to shake the sense that the Heart are quiet contenders. Finals football is renowned for its unpredictability, and with so many game changers in the team, it could just be that the Finals are where the Melbourne Heart will truly be in its element. With arguably the best tactician in the league, the Heart seem a side made for the one-off occasion.

There are the very real dangers of the ever potent Shane Smeltz to overcome and with Perth heading into the finals on the back of a magnificent win over the Victory, it-s certainly not going to be easy, but it is more than doable for a side that has beaten almost all challengers at one point or another this season.

Come on, you boys in Red!

Follow Matthew on Twitter @mg91