John Aloisi has called it a must-win match for the Melbourne Heart and it may also be just that for his A-League coaching career.
Already three points adrift at the foot of the table, a home loss against second-bottom Wellington Phoenix on Friday night would effectively end the Heart’s season before the halfway mark.
It could also spell the end of the road for Heart coach Aloisi, who hasn’t secured a win since February.
It really is a match the Heart should win.
They started the better against Melbourne Victory last week before being reduced to 10 men, and were acknowledged by opposing coach Frank Farina as the better team in their loss to Sydney FC the week before.
On paper, Wellington look the ideal opponents at such a critical stage, with just one win from 11 games this season and now without veteran forward star Paul Ifill, lost to a long-term achilles injury.
But at Melbourne Heart, winning just doesn’t come naturally.
And their record is tough to defend, even if recent performances have not yielded the points they have merited.
In the wake of his side’s 3-1 derby loss to Melbourne Victory, Aloisi suggested his board would not act on a single result but he must know a loss to the Phoenix could leave them feeling they have no choice but to let him go and start afresh.
He has again dismissed the notion of walking away from the position.
“I’m not a quitter. I love this job,” said Aloisi on Thursday.
Aloisi said there had been no discussions about his role following the derby defeat and his players still had confidence in their mission.
“The players still believe in what we’re doing and that’s the main thing,” he said.
“(They) still want to show that we can be a force this year and that’s why morale’s still high.”
Aloisi can again call on captain Harry Kewell after swelling on his knee from a knock in the derby match subsided.