FOR years he had the reputation of being one of the nice men of Australian, but John Aloisi always had a tougher core than most people could see.
That’s according to Graham Arnold, the man who coached him in the Socceroos, and now faces him in tomorrow’s table-topping encounter at Allianz Stadium.
It’s the second coming of Aloisi, picked out to coach the Roar 18 months after his coaching debut at Melbourne Heart was terminated ignominiously.
In that time at Heart Aloisi never beat Arnold, then at the Mariners, but victory tomorrow would see Brisbane climb above Sydney in the wake of an excellent start to the campaign.
Arnold insisted he wasn’t surprised that Aloisi had resurrected his coaching career at Brisbane, given what he had observed over years in the Socceroos dressing room.
“No, not at all – Johnny always had this streak in him that’s a winner,” Arnold said. “He’s a student of the game, and you can tell which ones would come through as coaches.
“When I was involved with the Socceroos it was the Kevin Muscats, the Tony Popovics, and you can put John Aloisi in that class.
“He’s bounced back, shown a lot of strength in wanting to come back as quick as he did, and got straight back on the horse. He’s moving along nicely.”
Aloisi left Heart just before their takeover by the Manchester City group, and Arnold said the context of a club can be defining for a coach.
“Compare the difference with Melbourne Heart – he had his troubles there and found it difficult at a club that wasn’t able to contribute in financial terms to what he wanted to do,” he said.
“At Brisbane they’ve had a lot of success, they know how to win – they’re carrying tat on, and he’s been fortunate to have those type of players in the dressing room.
“Brisbane have always been a strong healthy club. They’ve had off-field issues but they won’t affect what happens on the pitch when you have people in the dressing room like Matt McKay, Jade North and Thomas Broch, guys who have brought a lot of success to the club.
“They have a lot of experience and are great leaders. They’ve changed their style defensively, and at times it looks like they’re struggling to adjust to it.
“But the two young boys upfront (Jamie Maclaren and Brandon Borello) are doing very well – it shows you the depth of the Olyroos squad when Borello can’t get in. He showed good signs last year, and is doing well again.”
© 2015 The Daily Telegraph | This article was written by Tom Smithies and originally appeared on The Daily Telegraph on 4 November 2015.