|By SHAM MAJID
Melbourne Heart football operations manager John Didulica has backed manager John Aloisi to guide the club forward after the disappointment of missing the 2012-13 A-League finals.
Didulica also defended the club's recruitment, including the ill-fated acquisition of former Australia international Vince Grella.
Heart ended their campaign with a disastrous five-match losing run, culminating in a 2-1 defeat to the Central Coast Mariners last Saturday.
Aloisi, who signed a three-year deal to become Heart coach in October, endured a testing maiden season as coach, winning just eight matches and losing 16 as the team finished in ninth spot, registering an underwhelming 27 points from a possible 81.
Didulica told Goal Australia the club had targeted hosting a home final this season, and had believed finals were a possibility before an injury crisis late in the season took its toll.
"It was very disappointing for us to finish the season with a string of losses and to miss out on the finals," Didulica said.
While Heart has openly pursued a youth policy since joining the A-League in time for the 2010-2011 campaign, this season's squad possessed a number of veterans, with the likes of Fred, Simon Colosimo, Richard Garcia, Matt Thompson, Dylan Macallister and Jamie Coyne all aged 30 or above.
Didulica said the club had to balance their squad with experienced figures, especially in light of the departure of some of their brightest young talents.
"You always have to find a balance between youth and experience and we needed a number of experienced players, having lost five of our best young players [Curtis Good, Brendan Hamill, Aziz Behich, Eli Babalj and Michael Marrone] to overseas clubs,” he said.
"It is impossible in Australian football to have a limitless side of good young players waiting to step in."
Despite Heart's poor run of form towards the end of the season, Didulica endorsed the coaching credentials of rookie manager Aloisi.
"This is John's first year as a coach and he has done an excellent job in coming to the role and coping with a huge turnover in the player roster," he said.
"He has learnt a lot this year and the good thing in football is that there is always another match or season to look forward to.
"When you win or lose in football, everyone takes responsibility and it is not just the coach's or the administration's responsibility.
"We will now identify how to improve our football squad and plan ahead for next season."
Didulica said that Heart were assessing their squad as they continue to conduct their end-of-season analysis.
"No decisions have been made about the playing roster as of yet and we will assess it as part of the whole process," he added.
"The owners have indicated they will be adding to the squad for next season and will be pumping in more money as we look to reshape our next squad for next year."
Didulica also revealed the club stood by their decision to sign former Socceroos hardman Vince Grella on a one-year contract last October.
The ex-Blackburn Rovers midfielder, who had been plagued by injuries since 2008, tore a calf muscle in his one and only game for Heart, against Western Sydney Wanderers in January, and subsequently announced his retirement from football.
"We have no regrets at all over signing Vince Grella," Didulica said.
"If it had come off, it would have been a wonderful boost, but his decision was not to make money, but to establish himself back in professional football.
"The club's risk on the financial roster was nil and we thought it was a risk worth taking, but unfortunately, it didn't pay off."