by John Fotinos
The new coaching and management team make no secret of what lies ahead for the Heidelberg United faithful in 2024. With the new team at the helm – one with such a combination of vast experience, knowledge and passion for football, one thing is certain – ‘Bergers fans will witness an attractive and entertaining playing style.
New Senior Coach, John Anastasiadis, rejoins the club where he made his senior NSL debut in the 1980s. After a decorated playing career including a decade long stint at PAOK & as an attacking player in South Melbourne’s back to back titles in 1997/98 and 1998/99, Anastasiadis has had a successful managerial career. He led South Melbourne to a Grand Final win in 2006, then led Oakleigh for three seasons, before taking charge at Bentleigh Greens in 2011 – winning several trophies over a nine season stint, the most successful in that club’s history.
Anastasiadis was announced as an inaugural senior assistant coach to the newly-formed A-League franchise Western United in 2019, before being announced as the new Head Coach at Heidelberg United FC in October 2023.
Joining Anastasiadis at Heidelberg United as an Assistant Coach is Savvas Patikkis, and former player Sam Frangos who takes up the role as Goalkeeper Coach. The role of Director of Football has been taken up by another former 1980s Heidelberg United NSL champion, Nick Deligiannis. This team has been charged with the task of elevating the on field levels of performance to a higher level, with an eye on more than winning titles, but in possible preparation for a bid for a spot in the second tier national competition, along with developing promising younger talent.
To underscore the ambitious plans, the team has made several new signings, with an emphasis on augmenting a solid core squad of experienced players with some emerging younger talent to provide depth in the playing roster.
Anastasiadis was very clear in his overarching approach to the season ahead:
“The philosophy behind our preparation so far has been to develop a high intensity, full of high energy footballing style, combined with a possession driven attacking intent. We want to get the supporters really excited about our brand and want to get them to be here in numbers, right behind the team.”
Deligiannis underscored that theme, adding:
“We’re putting together a squad that has a lot of emerging young talent to complement the balance of experienced senior players. The aim is to engage with the fans, to excite the fans, and success will no doubt follow.”
The squad has had an intense preseason regime of four sessions per week, along with friendly games against quality opposition. The latest game played (at time of publication) was against Western United on Saturday January 13, with the teams playing out a 1-1 draw.
Next Saturday (January 20), the ‘Bergers host Melbourne City, ahead of travelling to Brisbane for a weekend round robin Hellenic Cup Tournament (along with Olympic FC Qld, Sydney Olympic FC, and Darwin Olympic SC).