Season Preview: Melbourne Heart

We preview the season ahead for the Red and White, who'll be hoping a host of new faces will help provide a change in fortunes in the 2013/14 season.

We preview the season ahead for the Red and White, who'll be hoping a host of new faces will help provide a change in fortunes in the 2013/14 season.

The Team

Melbourne Heart will be desperate to make a bigger impression on the competition in 2013/14, after only managing eight wins and avoiding the wooden spoon on goal difference last season. There has been a huge player turnover at the club with no less than 12 new faces being added to the senior squad. This being the case much will depend on how the side gels through the early rounds of season nine.

Headlining the recruitment drive is Australia-s greatest ever footballer Harry Kewell. After spending some time away from the game, Kewell has returned to the red half of Melbourne and will have a point to prove. Kewell has said we have not seen the best of him in the A-League and will hoping a string of fine performances will keep him in the reckoning for the Socceroos World Cup squad. The 35-year-old has been installed as captain for the upcoming season and the armband will no doubt be a heavy responsibility throughout the season.

Another signing that was set to make a huge impression on the A-League was former Dutch international Orlando Engelaar. The athletic midfielder was hailed as the answer to Heart-s problems in the centre of the park but fractured his right leg makinig his debut in pre-season against the Brisbane Roar. The Heart-s marquee signing underwent surgery and it is not yet clear what part he will be able to play this season.

The Heart have struggled against A-League opposition in pre-season but all that will be forgotten when they play their season opener against Victory. The Melbourne derby will go close to being a sell-out and will be a more accurate form guide as to what we can expect from the red and white this season.

The Manager

John Aloisi started his coaching career at the Heart two seasons ago, when he took over the Youth team following his retirement from the club. Having taken over the head coaching reigns in May last year, Aloisi came under-fire towards the end of last season, as his side faded heavily in the run-in to the finals. However with a full pre-season under his belt and a number of player signings there will be no excuses this campaign. One thing Aloisi will need to work on is his side-s form on the road, with the Heart only managing one win away from AAMI park last season. Aloisi-s coaching ranks have been bolstered by former head coach John van-t Schip, who has returned to the club as technical manager for the upcoming season.

Star Player

Harry Kewell has grabbed most of the headlines for Heart in pre-season and a lot of the Heart-s season will depend on how the former Leeds star performs. His wealth of experience will no doubt be invaluable for the squad but they will need other players to stand up if they-re to make the finals this season. Malta international Michael Mifsud will be one to watch, while experienced A-League recruits Massimo Murdocca and Iain Ramsey will also need to stand up for their new club.

The Fans

Ever since the Heart beat Victory in the very first Melbourne derby, the red and white Heart supporters have bled for their team. With the club now entering their fourth season in the Hyundai A-League, the fans will be hoping the club can add to their one final appearance this season. The Red & White Unite group are responsible for the Heart-s active support and have helped promote the club since their inception. They will no doubt be out in force when their side play Victory next weekend.

Ins and Outs

In Michael Mifsud (Valletta FC, Malta) Andrea Miglorini (FC Koper, Slovenia - injury replacement) Patrick Kisnorbo (from Leeds United, England) Orlando Engelaar (from PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands) Massimo Murdocca (from Brisbane Roar) Iain Ramsay (from Adelaide United) Tando Velaphi (from Melbourne Victory) Harry Kewell (from Al-Gharafa, Qatar) Robert Wielaert (from Roda JC Kerkrade, Netherlands) Aziz Behich (from Bursaspor, Turkey) Sam Mitchinson (elevated from youth side) Stefan Mauk (elevated from youth side)

Out Cameron Edwards (Perth Glory) Josip Tadic (HNK Rijeka, Croatia) Eli Babalj (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands) Simon Colosimo (to Dempo, India) Clint Bolton (retired) Matt Thompson (released) Fred (released) Marcel Meeuwis (released) Jamie Coyne (released)