Early losses take eyes off long-term goals

Early losses take eyes off long-term goals

Rivalry … the Heart and Wanderers square up on Friday night.The scenario with the two Melbourne clubs, and until recently the Western Sydney Wanderers, is very interesting from many perspectives. Mainly because it tests people’s true beliefs about football.
Nanjing Night Net

Losing has a funny way of doing that, separating people into distinct camps where everyone has a view one way or the other but, often, short-term results are not a true reflection of the quality of work being done which is the only true barometer or guide to future performance outcomes.

Sport, and football in particular, has a unique way of engaging emotional triggers as well, at which time all objectivity is lost and, additionally, people often feel a need to stand by their position and seek justification, not truth. Human nature being what it is, and all. It would have been difficult to predict the slow start of Melbourne Victory, given a high-quality playing staff and dual title winning coach, Ange Postecoglou.

Amid the uncertainty of some fans and the unavoidable tension that comes with adverse results at a big club, there are also good lessons for young coaches and the game about how to maintain a sense of purpose as well as how the broad understanding has progressed and people are now looking at different things in their football experience.

Many have correctly identified the excellent structural work being done at the Victory in a way that will make it difficult to achieve short-term results, but is more likely to produce positive outcomes by the season’s middle and end, as well as beyond. If I were a Victory fan, I would be delighted by what is under way and the way Postecoglou is changing the face of their football from the inside out, oblivious to the storm that accompanies the impostor of short-term results.

Many do the opposite, forever living game to game and short-changing the players’ development through a lack of tactical progress as well as the game via the spectacle. In fairness to many coaches, of course, blame for this lies squarely at the feet of the club executives and directors, many of whom remain unschooled in the game and, as such, unable to remain steadfast in their convictions and appointments when pressure starts to rise.

Should the reconstruction of the Victory brand and playing style take longer than expected, this may well become a very good test of both a club’s commitment to football strategy under pressure and of the fan base’s understanding of football and willingness to create something powerful in the long term.

For my money, in the Victory’s first game against the Heart which they lost, there were already clear signs of excellent work being done at both ends of the park, with the way Marcos Flores was used and the penetrating runs of Marco Rojas and Archie Thompson.

John Aloisi has different challenges at the Heart. As a first-time coach, he is now learning on the job about how to shield his players from pressure, maintain composure despite results and manage media and fan expectations, all important parts of a professional coach’s role.

While from the inside it must feel as though the world is coming down if results continue on their present trend, from our perspective the issue is simple: Aloisi need only look at his former teammate Tony Popovic and the immense difference just two results can make.

No goals, no wins, pressure building. Two wins in succession, the sun comes out, players start to play more freely without pressure and the world is a different place.

Aloisi has the benefit of an outstanding football director in John Didulica who is as steadfast as they come, as well as a club with a strong culture of the long term. He will be given the proper freedom and environment to develop and ride the peaks and troughs, as every coach must endure. He will overcome them with great success.

All three coaches are high-quality, educated people at three very different stages of their professional journey, and demonstrate in three distinct ways why short-term results should be the last factor to consider in football, not the first.

If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same. A good test for fans, administrators and players, and the very essence of a coach’s lot.

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