John Aloisi’s tenure as Melbourne Heart coach is likely to come under increased scrutiny after another loss left the struggling club rooted to the bottom of the A-League table.
A 1-0 home defeat to Western Sydney makes Heart winless in 10 games and without a goal in five hours of football.
But Aloisi refuted the suggestion that his side, also suffering from a number of key injuries, were struggling.
“Hitting the crossbar twice I wouldn’t say toothless, and I wouldn’t say getting balls cleared off the line was toothless,” Aloisi said.
“When you’re creating that many chances against Western Sydney who are the most organised side in the league, then you’re doing something right and we’ll get better.
“The goals will come. We’re five games in and 22 to go, there’s plenty of points to be won.”
Heart created a majority of chances against the Wanderers but again missed out on any points after conceding a first-half Shannon Cole goal.
Aloisi said his team began to feel anxious towards the end of the game, and were distraught in the changeroom.
He shook his team up in the second half, replacing playmaker David Williams and lively winger Golgol Mebrahtu in search of an equaliser.
But the one player most likely to burst the goal drought – Harry Kewell – is at least a fortnight away.
Meanwhile, Wanderers manager Tony Popovic saw his side go top with the win, praising his team’s spirit and depth.
“As a group and as a squad, there’s a lot of respect in the group, whether you’re a starter or a squad player,” he said.
“Everyone’s fighting to be in there. The players that aren’t involved are equally a big part of this club.”
Popovic dropped club captain Michael Beauchamp to hand new signing Matthew Spiranovic his Wanderers debut.
The decision paid off as Spiranovic was solid defensively and used his height to create chances in the Heart box.
Popovic hinted that he could continue in central defence.
“He did some good things but I could tell he was a player that hadn’t played since April,” he said.
“He’s got a long way to go… you won’t see the best of him for another 8-10 games.”
As for Aloisi’s plight, Popovic declined to offer advice.
“Johnny is coaching and he knows what he’s doing. I’m sure he’ll get it right.”
The Wanderers can look forward to a blockbuster home match with Melbourne Victory next Saturday night, while Aloisi’s men face another test at home to Sydney FC.