Aloisi calls on Heart to talk a better game

JOHN Aloisi wants Melbourne Heart to stop being such shrinking violets during the last 10 games of the season.

He wants his players to shout, holler, talk - communicate in any way they possibly can on the pitch.

Otherwise he fears they could fail to take advantage in matches they should be winning - as happened last Sunday, when they crashed to two late Sydney goals and jeopardised their chances of making the finals.

While skill, technical ability, stamina, strength and toughness are all prized attributes in a player - in fact it is impossible to play at the highest level without all, or at least several such assets in combination - the ability to organise and communicate is also an essential ingredient of the game.

Central defenders are prized not just for their ability to win aerial contests and for tough tackling but for their capacity to organise a defence. Ditto goalkeepers. Shot-stopping is just part of the job; structuring the defence and organising the team in their half of the pitch is another important responsibility.

Aloisi feels that at times his team simply does not talk enough and organise itself tactically while on the pitch. Conceding two goals in the last few minutes in a 2-1 loss to the hapless Sky Blues was perfect evidence of that, he acknowledges - agreeing that late fade-outs in which his side has given up crucial goals have been a big problem this season.

''We have discussed it a number of times,'' he said. ''Sometimes when you are up the opposition will throw players forward but I don't think we should really change our structure or way of playing too much.

''We have to keep on doing the things that we were doing early. That way you keep possession and stop them from attacking you.

''Against Sydney, we started to drop off too much. We lost the ball, lost possession and that's why we invited pressure. They know we don't want to do that, they have to make decisions out there and make sure it doesn't happen again.

''I don't know if its a lack of concentration. I think it's more a question of the players coaching each other out there, making sure that if they see things happening, they do something about it.

''The Sydney game was probably our best in terms of keeping possession and controlling the game and playing the way we want to play for 75-80 minutes.

''There was no reason for us to change the last 10 minutes, because Sydney didn't change that much for us to start dropping deeper.''

So does this lack of communication reflect poorly on Fred, the captain, and the more experienced members of the squad?

No, says the coach, it is a team responsibility.

''Players know it's not just Fred or the senior players' job. Even if a young boy comes into the side at the back he can coach the player in front of him because he knows what's happening. He can help the player in front, the midfielder can coach the striker. It's a general thing, it's everyone out on the pitch helping each other and coaching each other.''

Friday night's game against Adelaide now assumes critical proportions after Heart's nightmare collapse in Sydney.

Fred has been the talisman for the Heart - even if he was more effective last year than this - and Aloisi says the Brazilian will be fit to play a major role for his side against the Reds, who are sitting second on the ladder.

But the coach wants the captain to play smarter in the final weeks of the campaign and temper his enthusiasm for the contest.

At 32 the midfielder's energy levels, while still high, are not what they were.

''Fred will be all right,'' Aloisi said. ''We have spoken about him, he is that generous in some of the running and closing down he does, sometimes he doesn't have to do as much work [if he is to see the game out].

''I don't think it's a fitness thing; he sometimes does too much running. He was very good against Sydney. We are starting to see the old Fred.

''Its exciting for us. It has taken a while, he had a major operation in the off-season and it has taken this time to get back to his old self.''

Striker Golgol Mebrahtu, who has made a good impression in recent weeks, is unlikely to be involved because his body is struggling to cope with the rigours of regular A-League football, Aloisi says.

But another forward, David Williams, who was injured when sent off against Brisbane a fortnight ago, is available.

■Adelaide is purring along nicely under coach John Kosmina, a man not afraid to ruffle feathers if he believes it is in the club's best interests.

He made it clear early this season that he did not fancy Sergio Van Dijk - the target man brought in from Brisbane - all that much and left the forward out for most of the year.

That relationship finally ended on Thursday when Adelaide announced Van Dijk would be leaving South Australia after being released from his contract. The 30-year-old is joining Indonesian club PT Persib Bandung Bermartabat.

This story Aloisi calls on Heart to talk a better game first appeared on WA Today.