Pressure on for Melbourne coaches
MELBOURNE HEART coach John Aloisi has been through plenty of dogfights in his time as a player and will have to draw on all his experience to guide his weakened squad through a slump after Heart lost to Western Sydney Wanderers, their third consecutive defeat.
While Aloisi is a rookie at the managerial game - the Western Sydney defeat was only his fifth game in charge as a senior coach - his Melbourne Victory counterpart Ange Postecoglou is a veteran, having won four Australian championships as well as coaching at international level with the Young Socceroos.
But Postecoglou faces a similar challenge, his team having won only one of their first four games, making Monday night's Melbourne Cup eve encounter with Wellington Phoenix a crucial test.
The season is still at the early stage, but in a league in which teams only play 27 matches, five games is almost a fifth of the campaign. Points won at the start of the campaign are invaluable late in the season when a team is chasing wins to grab a finals berth.
The two Melbourne clubs are the bottom two on the ladder and, if only to restore their fans' faith, need to start picking up points quickly.
Victory look well placed against the Phoenix. The club almost always finds a way to beat the New Zealanders. Even last year, when Victory endured a season to forget, they still took nine points from three games against the Kiwis.
While Postecoglou's side is still a work in progress, there were signs of improvement last week in the 2-1 loss to the high-flying Newcastle Jets. Victory created a number of opportunities in the opening period when Jets keeper Mark Birighitti made several good saves. Postecoglou took that as a sign things are coming together. Brazilian attacking midfielder Gui Finkler should come into consideration for Monday's game, having missed the trip to the Hunter Valley, as Postecoglou still mixes and matches to find his optimum line-up.
Aloisi, meanwhile, knows the critics will be circling as his team has taken only one point from 12. The round-one triumph over Victory created a sense of expectation that Heart have not looked like meeting.
The loss of captain Fred proved disastrous last season - Heart only seemed to win when he led the side - and he is not likely to be back for the round-six encounter with defending champions Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park on Friday night.
Aloisi remained upbeat, saying he was pleased enough with his team's performance, if not their results.
''I don't think we have been playing too badly apart from that defeat in Perth. We have created chances, we just haven't been able to get a result.,'' Aloisi said.