FFA Cup final win rich reward for John van ‘t Schip, a Melbourne Heart original

John van ‘t Schip was there at the beginning, so if anyone has earned the right to be there at the moment of Melbourne City’s greatest triumph, their FFA Cup final success, it is he.
Nanjing Night Net

The Dutchman was there when City were Heart, when the team played in red, not sky blue and white, when they trained at far flung locations in the northern suburbs, when they used wheelie bins for ice baths and portakabins as a medical facility.

He was there when it was underfunded, under-appreciated and, for the most part, underwhelming.

The club’s inaugural coach, van ‘t Schip was brought in from The Netherlands after an impressive playing career, a coach with regal personal connections (he was a friend to the likes of Marco Van Basten and had been mentored by the legend that is Johan Cruyff) and a grounding in one of the best football production systems on the planet.

Hired in October 2009, van ‘t Schip’s appointment was designed to make a statement about the then new club, the team designed to become an A-League rival to powerhouse Melbourne Victory: his arrival heralded, so it was said, Heart’s philosophy. This was a club that was to be soaked in “European sophistication”, to play the game “the right way”, one that would appeal to football purists.

They did, sometimes. More often than not they didn’t, as their lack of success showed. Sure, they made the finals in their second season but they struggled for crowds, an identity and relevance as Victory continued to rule the roost.

Van ‘t Schip eventually departed at the end of the 2011-12 season, having taken Heart to the finals for the first time.

He was gone nearly two years, but answered an SOS call to return and stabilise the club after it had gone into a tailspin in the 2013-14 season, replacing his successor, John Aloisi, who was sacked at the end of 2013, midway through what to that point had been a disastrous campaign.

Van ‘t Schip’s return coincided with the takeover by the City Football Group, and like Heart, which morphed into City and grown and prospered since, the Dutchman’s record in Australia has improved dramatically.

City have made the A-League semi-finals in the past two seasons under his tutelage, and this year sit second on the table and have collected their first silverware in men’s football.

The coach has proved himself one of the more tactically adept in the A-League, developing a group of players who can adopt flexible tactical set-ups, play an attacking game at high tempo and press high up the field.

He has collated a versatile group and has created a buy-in mentality in a squad where there are some big names, such as Tim Cahill and Bruno Fornaroli, and some squad players who will all come in and do a job when asked.

“I am happy of course because it is the first trophy in the history of the club. Everybody has been waiting to get it done, so its important to win your first trophy,” he said after the final triumph.

“Everybody in the club … from the administration, to the players, the kitchen area, all the staff around the football team.

“Moments like this evening don’t come that often. Every time that you play a final its something very special. its the first prize we could win.”

In the immediate aftermath of the game, van ‘t Schip spared a thought for his mentor Cruyff, who died this year.

“I also think of Cruyff who passed away, his legacy and the football philosophy he left behind and I hope to contribute in the way he wanted to play football. I think we are making those steps here and the staff here are helping me. We have an incredible staff that are backing me. It’s a credit to the City Football Group that made these things happen.”

Van ‘t Schip’s contract expires at the end of this season, and who would bet against him finishing with the biggest trophy of them all, the A-League title.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation