It’s torrid times for Brisbane Roar at the moment. A fall from grace, financial turmoil, disgruntled fans and the loss of arguably last season’s best player. It’s a stretch to see many positives ahead of tonight’s opener, but it does present the opportunity to inspire a comeback story. John Aloisi claims he was doing more than just working on his tan in Barcelona and signing a couple of Spanish midfielders shows he wants to implement that Spanish influence immediately.
If Aloisi is the man to reignite the Roar this season, there are several places on the park he needs to strengthen and improve…
This is actually a promising position for Brisbane. After being number one for so long, Michael Theo sustained an injury in the build-up to last season and his replacement Jamie Young, whose kicking technique was almost as peculiar as the amount of passes he received during each game, certainly didn’t help settle the nerves with some calamitous early displays. Despite a shaky start to his tenure, he grew in stature and confidence throughout and will continue to compete for first place in the upcoming season. What Aloisi will need from his goalkeepers is to be less involved in possession play, but that’s not entirely their fault...
At the back
The pass-back brigade racked up a ridiculous amount of passes between themselves and it doesn’t take a heat map to work out where Brisbane retained a lot of their possession last season. Own-goal machine James Donachie, Corey Brown and Daniel Bowles all failed to capture the hearts of many fans, and this was not helped by Jade North, Luke DeVere, Jack Hingert and Shane Stefanutto dipping in and out of injury/form. At least one positive was the acquisition of Jerome Polenz, an absolute steal and a benchmark for defensive work rate in the league. The Roar defense is young and still has potential, but were laughable at times last season and will be hoping this year to offer more support for the midfield.
Middle of the park
Once the toast of the league, the Brisbane Roar midfield was one that could both retain possession and move the ball up-field with incredible pace and efficiency. Losing CDM rock Erik Paartalu was the first piece of the puzzle to come unstuck, followed by Massimo Murdocca and now club stalwart Luke Brattan. Without Brattan, a lot of the defensive work will have to be pulled by Matt Mckay who, despite several admirable qualities, won’t be able to do it all himself.Not only have the Roar lost their brute strength, but the midfield last season lacked fluency and creativity going forward. The emergence of youngster Devante Clut could be a key find, especially if he emulates his performances against Liverpool and Villarreal, while new additions Corona and Hervas from Spain have added depth and experience from La Liga, which should favour a side that lacked composure during key moments in big games last year. Perhaps the Spaniards could inspire the return of confident possession retention and recreate the glorious ‘Roarcelona’ days.
Oh dear, oh dear. Life without Besart Berisha is tough. Brisbane have learned the hard way that replacing a prolific Albanian with…another Albanian isn’t always the smartest tactic. Jamie McLaren is a step in the right direction, but is it enough? He has the pace and movement to get in behind the defense, but if the pre-season is anything to go by (seldom the 8 goals scored against the Gold Coast All-Stars), his finishing needs to improve if he is to make a statement as the spearhead. Competition for this spot comes from hot and cold Solorzano and newly-appointed Australian citizen Henrique, though neither managed to take the mantle when offered the chance. On the flanks, Thomas Broich will be looking to rediscover his All-Star form and will be hoping age isn’t finally catching up with him, while on the other end of the spectrum, Brandon Borrello is stepping out of his youth team shell and starting to influence the first team attack. Shannon Brady has shown he can provide a threat off the bench with lightning footwork too. The whole front line has big shoes to fill as the goals need to start flowing from somewhere.
Tonight’s match against Western Sydney will be the first test of Aloisi’s tactical development since his Melbourne Heart days. A convincing win is crucial for a club who could do with making the headlines for the right reasons and send out a message to the rest of the league:
“Brisbane’s back, baby!”