2 years on, how Brisbane has changed.

Happy 2 year aniversey everyone! It was 2 years ago yesterday that Brisbane Roar hired current mvanager Ange Postecoglou as the third manager in club history and boy has the club changed since that date, both on and off  the park. In this blog we will look at how the club has changed, and analyse 3 specific areas I believe have gone under the biggest changes, these are the off the park management of the club, engagement of the local football community and ofcourse the on the field product.

Hopefully, the resolve shown yesterday to act on Farina’s poor behaviour is a fresh start for a club in need of some serious help.

The about is a quote from an article written by Marco Montaverde  of The Courier Mail just before former coach Frank Farina was sacked and replaced with Postecoglou, and looking back I think its safe to say that unfortunate incident was indeed the catalyst for the dawn of a new, exciting and successful Brisbane Roar.

Looking back to where things were off the park, there was very little media coverage- most of which was provided by Montaverde himself, and alot of his reporting was on negative topics such as relocation to Ballymore and the owners handing the license back to FFA- and barely anybody else in the media was talking about the Roar. In addition to that crowds were getting progressivly worse with some getting lower than 4,000 due to dreadful kick off times, other codes being in the finals series and insanely high ticketing prices forced upon the club from the Football Federation. There also seemed to be a distinct lack of corporate support for the club, with very few sponsors willing to pay to adverise their brands at matches.

These days the Brisbane media are far more interested in the club and are provided more coverage on the nightly news, on the radio waves across the city and in the citys primary newspaper and the websites that accumpany it. The tone of the stories have also changed, no longer are there questions and opinion pieces about moving to Ballymore and dwindling crowds, these days they have been replaced with stories on the wonderful football team we are privlidged to be watching, and the latest news that surrounds them. Ownership too has been sorted with the Bakrie group coming in and buying the majority stake of the club in what promises to provide stability for the club and if recent quotes are to be believed, a bright future that may include our own stadium.

Today as we know crowds are on the up, fans are returing the games in number and crowd averages are getting back to the marks set in the early years. Its to simple however imo to simply credit the good product on the park for the return of the fans -although there is no question it is the primary factor-. The club looking from the outside has definatly been more proactive in the Brisbane community attending many events such as the recent ‘Bridge to Brisbane’ fun run, and ofcourse ticketing initiaves such as $50 junior memberships and individual match tickets starting from $20 for an adult. Compare this to $27 idividual match tickets and no community engagement and I think its a fair assumption that these things have also increased support of the club.

Moving on to part 2 and the engagement of the local football community, and the diffence here is night and day, it truely is. Back in those days the club would play their usual Roar Roadshow matches, but there wasn’t alot done to support the local league at that time. Very few people would turn up to these games and they would generally be against the same teams every time such as Rochedale Rovers, Peninsula Power and Brisbane Olympic.

These days the Roar Roadshow still includes these teams, but also it changes each year with Roar generally playing against the top performers of that season and not just the big clubs of the division. They also seemed  this past preseason to try to get games in all different parts of the city: from the Bayside against Brisbane Wolves, the southside against Rochedale Rovers and Olympic and the northside against Brisbane City and Peninsula power -all of whom were at or near the top of the BPL this season. In addition to these games they also played a game out in Ipswich against an Ipswich select XI made up of the city’s 3 football clubs, a game against Adelaide out west in Toowoomba and a game up on the Sunshine Coast against their QSL side, the Sunshine Coast Fire. In addition they also played a fundraising game at the University of Queensland to raise funds for an Afghani refugee who’s father passed away. It is these fundraising games that are the key difference to the clubs pre-season with a game last season in support of George Wani, an African man in a wheelchair.

Finally looking to the on field product, this is without a doubt where the biggest changes have been undertaken, with Farina and his ill-disciplined ‘boys club have been shown the door, replaced by a professional attitude and a strong squad of players with immnese self belief. The final days of the Frank Farina era were some of the toughest days for Brisbane Roar supporters. We were left watching a bunch of uncommitted players who appeared to be playing only for their weekly pay cheque while talented youngsters -who now ply their trade overseas- were left out for reasons only known to the coaching staff. How players like Tommy Oar, Michael Zullo, Adam Sarota, Mitch Nichols, Isaka Cernak and Luke DeVere (plus Tahj Minnieccon and Robbie Kruse who got squeezed out) failed to get a game while players like Bob Malcolm, David Dodd and Andrew Packer proceeded to make amateurish mistakes is one of my worst memories as a Roar supporter, and imo should have been enough to see Farina depart even without his misdemeanor.

If that wasnt enough the teams disipline was dreadful, obtaining an obscene 36 yellow cards and 1 red card in barely 1/3 of a season shows what the playing group were able to get away with. 2 of the more memorable examples fo this ill-disipline were Danny Tiatto and his middle finger salute to the Victory supporters and Charlie Millers behind the play cheap shot on Robbie Kruse, both of which occured in Farina’s final match in charge. Then the true issues of Farina and his man management came to the public eye, when Charlie Miller instead of apologising for his disgracful actions, proceeded to put the blame onto the media claiming that their analysis of the incident forced FFA to suspend him, and not 1 word was said from Farina on this.

The style of football under Farina was not all that bad in all reality, even in his final days with a home victory of Sydney, a enthrauling 3-3 draw in Melbourne and a fantastic victoty in Newcastle saw the team in or close to the bottom half of the top 6. Having said that the style of play is nothing in comparison to what we Roar supporters are now spoiled with under Ange Postecoglou. Ange and his tactical changes he has made has turned the side from a team who couldn’t win at home -or on the road when it really mattered- to a side who today sits 19 games undeafed at Suncorp Stadium and having not lost a home game since January of 2010. We talk alot about that style of football of the Roar today and so does the Australian football media and I think just about every Roar supporter understands the differences in style between Farina and Postecoglou so I wont go into that too deeply in this blog, I will only say that Postecoglou has taken the club from lacking belief and disipline into the most disiplined side in the competition, and he’s done it with short passing, movement off the ball, transition play and quick thinking.

It is that disipline that he instilled into the club when he arrived which was critical to him being able to change the teams on park style, and breaking up the imfamous Boys club that consisted of Liam Reddy, Danny Tiatto and former Rangers trio Craig Moore, Charlie Miller and Bob Malcolm was absolutly vital in changing the way the club was run. All of those players left 1 way or another relativly quickly following Postecoglou taking over and they were replaced in the side by the young players mentioned above. The above ‘boys club’ members aswell as Farina s took numerous shots at Ange and the club once they left but that didnt change the way he went about building his side and we all know how the plan that Postecoglou hatched panned out.

Young and exciting players like Kosta Barbarouses, Thomas Broich and Jean Carlos Solorzano to name just 3 came to the side that trio alone started the Grand Final in March and contributed an impressive 29 goals last season. In addition to that Ange found a way to best utalise the talent already at the club such as Massimo Murdocca and Matt McKay who some critics said would never be able to boss a championship winning midfield. Finally he also has brought through a host of the young players who were fringe players under Farina such as Mitch Nichols, Luke DeVere and Matt Mundy who all played important roles in the success of last season. Its been a fantastic 2 years for Roar supporters, and if Ange is right when he says we’ll only improve over the next 2-3 years, we could be in for something truely special.

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