Heart's new coach looks to recruit a dominant midfielder and retain a spurned colleague.
RECRUITING a dominant midfielder and retaining a spurned colleague are top of the priority list of Melbourne Heart's new coach John Aloisi.
The 36-year-old yesterday became the A-League's youngest coach, with Heart's hierarchy deciding his lack of full-time coaching experience was offset by his ''exposure to football's elite'' as a player, including coaches such as Guus Hiddink, Terry Venables and respected Mexican Javier Aguirre.
Heart cast a wide net for a successor to John van 't Schip, but its lingering preference for an internal promotion culminated in a shortlist of two: Aloisi and assistant coach Ante Milicic.
Both candidates were former Socceroos, and while Aloisi's club and international career was more illustrious, Milicic, 38, boasted a more extensive coaching record.
Heart chairman Peter Sidwell would not elaborate on the factors that earned Aloisi the position, but insisted the former was the right coach for the youth-laden club ''as we move beyond the development stage''.
Having a pathway into coaching enshrined in his contract was the key reason Aloisi left Sydney FC at the end of its title-winning 2009-10 season to join Heart. Nevertheless, he admitted yesterday he was pleasantly surprised to snare its top job just a year after his retirement as a player.
''I think they [Heart directors] have seen I've played under quite a few good coaches, and they would have seen the way I worked [with the youth team] last season,'' he said.
Aloisi reckoned the continuity from the tenure of van 't Schip - already 15 members of last year's squad have been retained - would smooth the transition between coaches.
''With the people I've got around me and the players I've got, the inexperience won't matter so much,'' he said.
He is eager for Milicic to stay at the club as his deputy. He said he would only support releasing him from his contract if a head-coaching role was offered, or if Milicic was no longer ''comfortable working here''.
''But I've got a great relationship with Ante,'' said Aloisi, explaining how their families have become friends since moving to Melbourne.
Before the Heart squad begins pre-season training next month, Aloisi is eager to secure some key reinforcements. Imports Alex Terra, Rutger Worm and Maycon have all been released, while midfielder Wayne Srhoj is expected to leave due to a contract stalemate.
Remaining Heart imports Fred and Jonatan Germano have been the club's best overseas recruits across its two seasons. Aloisi and his staff are now scouring overseas leagues to complement them with an influential holding midfielder - ''an important position and one we have to get right''.
''At times [last season] we destroyed teams, but we didn't control a lot of our games. I think that was due a little bit to the midfield,'' Aloisi said.
He described the Heart squad, which boasts Young Socceroos such as Aziz Behich, Curtis Good and Eli Babalj, as ''the most exciting young squad in the league''.
He said his goal for next season would be to win the A-League championship, declaring he was unconcerned about the pressure that could create on him if Heart fails to achieve that.