John Aloisi has big plans for Melbourne Heart

SAM LIENERT
Last updated 13:24 08/05/2012

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New Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi has set himself the ambitious goal of guiding the club to the A-League championship in his first season.

But no more ambitious than his plan to have Ante Milicic, the man he beat for the job, alongside him.

The 36-year-old former Socceroo striker's appointment for the next three seasons was confirmed on Tuesday.

The Heart want Milicic to stay on as Aloisi's assistant, despite boasting considerably greater coaching experience than Aloisi and being linked to vacant jobs in Sydney.

Aloisi's playing achievements are well known, having scored the penalty which confirmed the Socceroos' place in the 2006 World Cup among 55 international appearances, and he played club football at the top level in England, Italy and Spain.

But his coaching credentials do not come close - just one season in charge of the Heart's youth team.

Even Aloisi admitted his rise had surprised him.

"When I retired here just over a year ago, I didn't really expect to be the head coach within a year," he told reporters at Tuesday's announcement.

He will aim high.

"The squad we've got, we're going to be very ambitious. Our goal will be to win the league," Aloisi said.

"I'm going to be under pressure no matter what, so I might as well be under pressure knowing that I'm going to try to win it.

"If you don't have a goal that you're going to try to win the league, then what's the use of being in the competition."

And Aloisi wants Milicic with him.

Milicic was John van 't Schip's assistant for the Heart's first two seasons, as well as a Young Socceroos assistant at two under-20 World Cups, and coached Sydney United in the NSW Premier League.

From western Sydney, Milicic has been linked to that region's coaching search and could also be a contender for the vacant Sydney FC post.

But Aloisi said he had a strong relationship with Milicic both professionally and personally and expected him to stay.

Heart chairman Peter Sidwell said Milicic, contracted for next season, had told the club he would remain, although they would not force him.

"We would never stand in anyone's way, but our absolute expectation is that Ante will be staying on as an assistant coach," Sidwell told AAP.

Aloisi was prepared for unfavourable comparisons with Melbourne Victory's recent signing of the vastly experienced Ange Postecoglou, fresh from guiding Brisbane Roar to consecutive championships.

"I'm not worried about coming up against Ange, the players are more important than the coaches," he said.

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- AAP

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