Playing under new ownership for the first time, Melbourne Heart players have the chance to impress their new bosses in Adelaide
Melbourne Heart players will have their first chance to impress their new Manchester City paymasters when they visit in-form Adelaide United on Saturday night.
Fresh from ending a league record winless streak of 19 games against Newcastle Jets last week with marquee signing Orlando Engelaar making his debut, Heart announced on Wednesday a takeover by the Premier League giants to cap an eventful week.
However, their run of good news could end with a trip to the league’s form side.
United are unbeaten in six, including impressive victories against Brisbane and Western Sydney teeing up a chance to win three straight for the first time in three years against Heart.
The two shared one of the matches of the A-League season when they last met at AAMI Park – Heart recovering from 0-2 to salvage a 3-3 draw to ease pressure on then boss John Aloisi.
Two of those goals came from the departed Andrew Migliorini, with the now fit Engelaar taking his place in the squad.
This time around, Heart will be playing not for Aloisi but for the chance to be a part of the club’s next phase under new management.
Heart boss John van ‘t Schip acknowledged the uncertainty the takeover has brought but hoped it would invigorate his playing squad rather than plague them.
“The most important thing for the players is to be focused today on training and tomorrow on the game,” he said.
“Knowing what kind of changes will be made, everyone should like to be involved in it (which should) give them a lot of energy.”
With around a dozen players out of contract in the off-season – including marquees Harry Kewell and Engelaar – Heart’s squad are certainly on notice.
Van `t Schip declared the giant Dutchman fit to play around an hour against United after coming through a debut substitute appearance last weekend.
Michael Mifsud is likely to return to the starting lineup for David Williams who, like Patrick Gerhardt, injured his ankle in the win over Newcastle Jets. Patrick Kisnorbo should replace Gerhardt.
Adelaide boss Josep Gombau endorsed Manchester City’s investment as “something that could benefit everybody” but was more focussed on the task at hand.
“The players have confidence and we are working in the right way for the results,” he said.
Gombau said returning winger Fabio Ferreira was likely to start on the bench for Heart’s visit.
Van `t Schip – who spoke of how he would like his side to emulate United’s approach – said their form made the match a “fantastic test” for his side.
“Gombau is putting in a good playing style so it’s going to be a fantastic game, a fantastic test to see where we’re at in our process,” he said.
“We have a lot of things in common, I think they are further along the way, (but we’ll) see if we can do some damage.”