Off-field decisions have rocked the Roar over the past 12 months, going from champs to chumps in a short period of time.
Firstly there was the shock sacking of Mike Mulvey only six rounds after lifting the championship. Then there was the tumultuous off-season which saw the club’s owners accrue debts of approximately $1 million, including failing to pay players and staff on time. As you’d expect, there were few signings coming on board, while Socceroo Luke Brattan opted to leave, meaning 2015-16 looms as a challenging campaign.
Amid all that, the club appointed former Melbourne Heart boss John Aloisi as their new full-time coach, in a situation which has parallels to former mentor Ange Postecoglou’s appointment at the same club. Postecoglou’s reputation was put through the ringer after an ugly spell in charge of the Young Socceroos before getting the Roar gig and redeeming himself. Aloisi, who went 17 games without a win at Heart, will hope for a similar turnaround. The pertinent question is, have they got this off-field decision right?
Mel Papastergou, long-term Brisbane Roar member
What are the expectations for the season ahead as a fan?
On the pitch, it is to make finals. Realistically I don’t think we will be in contention for the premiership due to the change of our coaching staff and injuries getting the better of our strikers and one of our central defenders. That will definitely make for a difficult start to our season. But I am excited to support my boys.
Off pitch, I’m confident the current owners and FFA will work together for the better of the club and have us running like a champion club again.
How have you seen this off-season full of tumult?
Where to begin! Staff, players, members, fans and sponsors have been constantly lied to as to the direction the club is heading in. We were told that our club was to be sold and that no more money would be put into our club. Our staff and players’ monthly wages have been paid late and super not at all. We have lost quality members of staff and players. Staff don't have the funds to promote our club nor for fan engagement. We are now being told that the owner has had no intention in selling the club and this is the beginning of a 'new Brisbane Roar'.
In my eyes since the mess of Mike Mulvey's termination we have been consistently lied to and disrespected. Even after the initiative of a Member Forum so that we could officially voice our concerns, no one walked away with any confidence. There are fans who have been Members since day one who have not renewed their membership because of the uncertainty and disrespect and they do not want to give any more money to our current owners. That alone is a clear-cut indication that us fans have had enough and want no more words, we want action and we want it yesterday.
What are the lessons learnt from last year?
To better manage breaking news. Not rely on teams to be disqualified for us to make finals. Not be scared to take a shot. To pass the ball as we are not a one man team. Fans learnt to give the newbies a chance to settle in before writing them off.
Who’s a bolter in the squad?
Jamie Maclaren has been looking very sharp during the pre-season and is fitting in well with our existing team and John Aloisi's set plays. He is a game changer, creating opportunities, sneaky with his footwork and taking shots from the tightest angles, far out of the box and the slimmest of targets. I’m excited to see him play against the best in the league.
Favourite player and why?
Devante Clut has impressed me from day one. It could have been that amazing volley from outside the box on debut! He consistently works hard off the ball to create chances and is also not scared to take a shot. I had watched him regularly as part of our NYL squad and was impressed much before he stepped out under the bright likes of Suncorp Stadium.
Why they’ll do well
At the start of last term, the Roar had won three of the past four A-League championships and midfielders Matt McKay and Thomas Broich were integral to that success. The pair remains the heartbeat of Brisbane’s play, with their respective work-rate and creativity. These two are winners and have provided good leadership through their off-field issues.
The A-League most successful player, Michael Theo, is fit again after his 2014-15 season was ruined by a series of unfortunate injuries. Prior to that the goalkeeper had rarely missed a game. Jamie Young is a good stand-in stopper, but Theo is one of the A-League’s best and provides voice and leadership from the back.
Roar have a nice list of youngsters capable of giving this side a big lift, with Maclaren, Clut, Brandon Borrello, Steve Lustica and James Donachie. Hopefully Aloisi gives them appropriate opportunities to shine.
Why they’ll do badly
It’s been the off-season from hell for the players, with Brattan jumping ship, while Luke DeVere and Henrique face long stints on the sidelines with injury. Broich has had his worries in pre-season with a foot complaint and isn’t getting any younger at 34.
One of the factors not mentioned enough in relation to Brisbane’s decline last term was the absence of Besart Berisha, who the club has never replaced. A regular supply of goals was a problem last term, with Henrique top scoring with eight and he’s out injured until November. That immediately puts pressure on Maclaren who has joined from Glory.
Brisbane were consistently inconsistent last term, with interim boss Frans Thijssen never able to discover any continuity. They crushed some weaker sides and then were no match for others.
The big questions
Is Aloisi the answer?
Aloisi has his rightful place in Socceroos history as a player, but he hasn’t overly impressed in his brief coaching career. After his difficult time at Heart, he worked in the media and then took up a development role at Melbourne Victory. He says the lessons he learnt at Heart will ensure he can instill his style, but we’ll reserve judgement. It’s a tough gig after all.
How do Roar replace Brattan?
The Socceroos midfielder was outstanding in Roar’s 2013-14 championship year and is a player who ensured play was always linked up, so he leaves a serious hole. There’s no obvious like-for-like replacements from within the squad, so Aloisi may look abroad, with veteran Spanish midfielder Corona drafted in.
Has Broich still got it?
The two-time Johnny Warren Medal winner has had his troubles with injury over the past 12 months and his 34-year-old body is unable to recover from knocks as easily as in the past. On the ball, he remains a genius, with his craft and creativity, but will he be on the park enough?
Key player: Thomas Broich
The German midfield maestro has long been Roar’s star player and given they’ve brought in few players and will be relying on growth from within, he’s likely to be a key to their fortunes again.
What they’ll be saying come April
What happened to the once mighty Brisbane Roar? It’s time for fundamental changes at the club.
With injuries, off-field issues, an unproven coach and ageing stars, Roar will likely miss the finals, but they’ve got the quality to upset plenty of sides and maybe sneak into the top six if everything goes right.
Jamie Maclaren (Perth Glory)
Kofi Danning (Oakleigh Cannons)
Adam Sarota (Utrecht)
Ben Litfin (released)
Andrija Kaluđerović (released)
Lachlan Jackson (Newcastle Jets)
Luke Brattan (released)comments