Brisbane Roar captain Matt Smith has praised the influence of head coach Mike Mulvey and his off-season acquisitions Liam Miller and Dimitri Petratros.
Roar sit on top of the A-League ladder, five points ahead of second-placed Western Sydney Wanderers. The free-scoring Queenslanders have recorded the most goals in 28 and conceded just 13, the fewest in the competition.
Brisbane striker Besart Berisha is equal top of the goal-scoring charts, with Wellington Phoenix’s Stein Huysegems and Melbourne Victory’s James Troisi also on seven goals, while Roar players Petratos, Smith, Ivan Franjic and Henrique all sit on four goals.
While Roar have struggled in recent weeks, with a 10-man side securing a point against Perth on the weekend and going down to a late winner in a 2-1 loss to Adelaide the week before, they have also played some brilliant football this season.
Victory were dispatched 3-0 at AAMI Park, Melbourne Heart beaten 3-0 in November while Sydney FC were smashed 4-0 at Suncorp Stadium in October and then pumped 5-2 at Allianz Stadium - and Smith said Roar’s approach to the game has always been important.
“We’ve always spoken about the way that we like to play,” he said. “The one thing that’s clicked in recent weeks is our one and two-touch passing and obviously the mobility.
"Also how quickly we can get the ball back. We always try and win the ball back as quick as we can. We’ve always had this philosophy.”
Smith hailed Mulvey’s touch with the Roar squad, which including bringing in Miller from Perth and Petratos from Malaysian club Kelantan, and he believes the current team compares favourably with the championship-winning Brisbane sides under Ange Postecoglou.
“Mike had a conscious decision to keep the squad small and obviously bring in some really experienced players as well such as Matty McKay, Liam Miller in particular as well,” he said.
“He’s made some very smart signings. Dimitri Petratos now and Diogo Ferreira are getting some good game-time now and they’re playing well. He’s a very good man-manager, he always gets the best out of the players.
"He always keeps everyone very grounded, we’re not letting any complacency. He keeps us all on our toes, pushing and working hard, which is obviously the forefront to any of the performances over the course of the season is hard work comes first.
“If you look at player for player, collectively speaking, this is one of the better [Roar] teams. I think the one thing that we lacked, probably last season, which was really apparent throughout the Ange area was our consistency.
"I think if we are consistently performing week-in-week-out, which we didn’t really do last season. We had a good back half to the year but over the course of the season we weren’t consistent enough and hopefully we can get back up to that level now."
Former Manchester United, Leeds United, Celtic and Sunderland star Miller has complemented a talented Roar midfield that includes Thomas Broich, Luke Brattan and McKay.
“Liam’s obviously vastly experienced,” Smith said. “He’s played at the highest level at various clubs throughout the world, let alone here in Australia.
"I was very excited when Mike said he had the opportunity to sign him because the way that he likes to play football fits our approach. I think that he’s proven his movement, his ability on the ball, he’s able to find people and pick a pass.
"But obviously with his work ethic, again, he fits into our midfield who are very, very mobile and very, very fit. So he’s done a fantastic job for us. He’s really hitting some form over the last few weeks and I’m really pleased we have him at Brisbane.”
Petratos moved to Roar after a stint in Malaysia and a controversial exit from Sydney FC. The 21-year old scored a hat-trick against the Sky Blues on Boxing Day and recently re-signed with Brisbane for another two years, tieing him to the club until the end of the 2015-2016 season.
“Dimi’s been working hard since the start of the pre-season,” Smith said. “He came to us on a trial basis and done enough in throughout period and he’s been working very, very hard.
"He had a bit of knee clean-out before the start of the season. He works very hard in training and I’m pleased to see him taking his chance.”
Smith describes Petratos, who has played for the Joeys, Young Socceroos and Olyroos, as having some fantastic potential.
“One of the good things about Dimi is that he’s one of the first into training,” he said. “If doesn’t matter if he’s doing core in our rehab room or he’s out on the pitch playing keepy-up with a tennis ball, he seems to be really enjoying his football at the moment.
"He’s got some great potential. I know that he’s still quite young but if he keeps developing like you see here for another couple of years then see where it takes him.”3 comments