|By RONNY LERNER
Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi has stoked the flames ahead of their highly-anticipated A-League derby clash against Victory on Friday by asserting his club's ability to develop young talent is superior to that of their rivals.
Since the 2011-12 A-League season finished, the Heart have sold prospects Curtis Good [Newcastle United], Eli Babalj [Red Star Belgrade] and Brendan Hamill [Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma] to established overseas outfits for a reported AU$600,000 each.
Under previous coach John van 't Schip, the Heart made the A-League finals in just their second year on the back of a youth-driven recruitment policy.
Meanwhile, Victory endured a torrid 2011-12 season, despite the pre-season addition of Socceroos star Harry Kewell to an already experienced roster.
And while Aloisi concedes the Victory are a bigger club and are winning the battle of the 'haves' and 'have nots', he said Heart can be proud of the fact that they are arguably the best club in Australia when it comes to nurturing emerging players.
"It's quite obvious with the way we've started the club," Aloisi said when asked about the difference was between his club and the Victory.
"Victory have a lot more members, a lot more money than us, can spend more on players and things around the club whereas we can't.
"We've got a budget to deal with and we're trying to do our best to also produce young players and help them develop so they can go on to bigger and better things in Europe.
"We've [been] able to do that in two years and I think not many other clubs can say they have done that, so we're a little bit different in that aspect."
Before taking the reins from van 't Schip, Aloisi had a decorated club career that included stints in Belgium, Italy, England and Spain.
The former Socceroos star, who also played in some all-Melbourne clashes in his one playing season with the Heart in 2010-11, believes the Victory-Heart encounters hold own their own with any of the local derbies that take place abroad.
"Derbies are always special," Aloisi said.
"I played a few in my career overseas and a few here in Melbourne and I have to say they're just as good here back in Melbourne than they were overseas.
"We're expecting 40,000 people at Etihad [Stadium] so you can imagine the atmosphere's going to be great."
Aloisi said it did not take long for the Melbourne rivalry to become a genuine one.
"It developed straight away surprisingly," Aloisi said.
"I was involved in the first derby and straight away you could see that there was red and white (in the crowd) or the blue of Victory and people either really love us or hate us and that's surprising so quickly early on in a derby that that can happen."