The Manchester City revolution under way at Melbourne Heart has inspired and liberated players as they focus purely on climbing the A-League table.
The feel-good factor brought by City’s purchase of the struggling club and drought-ending win against Newcastle Jets in successive days has masked Heart’s position at the foot of the table.
Heart, it seems, are playing without the burden of expectation.
Without finals to play for – they sit 12 points behind Adelaide who are sixth with 11 games left – the remaining weeks in Heart’s season are all about preparing for the future.
Even if Heart do lose the majority of their matches, the optimism that surrounds City’s acquisition of Melbourne’s second club is likely to be carried through until season’s end in April.
Ahead of the Heart’s first home game after the announcement of their new owners, defender Aziz Behich said the players felt that positivity.
“It’s a great thing. What better club would you want? One of the biggest clubs in the world to be a part of Melbourne Heart,” he said.
“Every player thinks it’s a positive move for the club.”
That sentiment was echoed by defender Patrick Kisnorbo, who said it was exciting times.
“It is great, not only for the club but for Australian football in general, to have a club like Manchester City invest in our club,” he said.
Behich, who is loan from Turkish side Bursaspor, said the uncertainty generated by imminent changes – like name or shirt – weren’t on players’ minds.
“We’re focused on the game – those are just little things for us,” he said.
“We’ve got a job to do and that’s to get results on the park like we have the last two weeks and keep the confidence flowing.”
Behich might miss any fruit borne by the revolution as his loan deal expires at the end of the season.
He didn’t rule out a longer stay at the Heart but said, as a contracted Bursaspor player, he would sit down with his management group at the end of the season and assess.
The continuation of his good form in Friday night’s match against Sydney FC will go a long way to giving him improved options.
Behich said he thought he was “improving with every game” and there was no doubt in his mind the Heart could beat Sydney FC on Friday night, extending their mini-revival.