The 2012-13 National Youth League season came to an end on Saturday when Brisbane had a convincing 3-1 win over Newcastle, on the back of a James Meyer hat-trick, so I thought it would be a good idea to review the season as a whole. Result wise it isn’t Brisbane’s best ever season, with a 4th place finish on the table a slight regression on last season. It would be a 3rd place finish, however FFA decided to dock Brisbane 3 points for fielding ineligible players – Takahashi and Dong-Hyun were both age appropriate for NYL, however FFA deems all foreigners as overage players, thus Brisbane fielded too many overage players-. Results however are not the important part of the youth league, it’s all about development and if you can find a couple of players for the 1st team it’s doing its job. Last season saw Acton and Donachie earn a promotion and this year saw several get A-League deals- both here and elsewhere. Starting with elsewhere- both Jason Geria (Victory) and Nick Fitzgerald (CentralCoast) have both graduated from the youth squad to other clubs for next season. Brisbane however haven’t totally missed out with both Lambadaridis and Brown already earning promotions, and there’s a chance 1 or 2 more may join them.
Just to wrap this up I thought id talk about some of the key contributors to the squad this season, both youth league players and also some 1st teamers who spent most of the season at youth league level.
Ross showed some versatility this season playing in both the defensive midfielder role earlier in the season, before reverting to a new central defensive role –possibly out of nessasity- in the final few weeks. For mine he’s better as a #6 with his passing game. Given he’s played 2 full seasons of NYL now he’s possibly at a crossroads given that typically players don’t play more than that without being promoted to the 1st team.
Brown has featured in the 1st team in recent weeks however earlier in the season he was dominating the left hand side for the youth team. His overlapping runs down the left often lead to chances on the cut back for attacking players. He’s more than ready for the 1st team and wouldn’t let anyone down if he was given regular 1st team football.
Stepped in as the #1 keeper with Matt Acton being promoted to the 1st team, the youngster from Peninsula did a good job in goals. As a shot stopper he’s made some good saves, and his playing out has improved aswell which is important for modern day keepers. Keeping a handle on shots is one thing he can work on imo, but I think we’ll see him back in the NYL squad again next season.
This was his 1st year in the youth squad, and as a young defender he stepped in and did a pretty good job. He played as both a full back and centre back in a defence which was constantly changing. He’s not 1st team quality right now, but he’s still young and it wouldn’t surprise if he was back next year.
Julius was one of Mulvey’s four summer signings and although he looked lively in his 15 minute cameo, he’s got similar issues to those of Kofi Danning imo. He’s able to beat defenders which is a positive, however often the last pass, cross, shot isn’t to the standard required.
One of the 1st teamers, and while we saw him sporadically in the 1st team under Rado, he has however been unsighted since the arrival of Mulvey. He was pushed off the ball too easily in the A-League and the same problem occurs in the NYL. He’s also got a habit of only having 1 one move to try and beat defenders in 1v1 situations, and it rarely works. He needs to make a massive improvement next season, if he’s still at the club.
Seemingly a late add to the youth squad, Dougall was in his 3rd season at the level and split time at right fullback and his natural central midfield role. He’s clearly a favourite of youth coach John Sime who continually barked out instructions at him. He’s not 1st team level imo, and im not sure he’s eligible for NYL next season, so this could be the last we see of him.
Big George got his 1st team deal for next season yesterday which is a positive, but in truth he didn’t have the greatest time in the youth league this season. He started off with a knee injury, and has been called into the 1st team on occasion. All of which limited him to just the 9 games this year. He’s talented though, and has a lot to offer going forward.
1st year youth player Liftin, was another who came in and had an immediate impact as a goal scoring midfielder. I really like Liftin as a player, goal scoring midfielders are hard to find, but he’s also creative in addition to that. Not sure we’ll see him promoted to the 1st team this season, but I think he’ll stick around in the NYL again.
Another 1st year player who had a decent impact, Patrick played wide out on the left typically and chipped in with his fair share of goals (4). I don’t think we’ll see him in the 1st team anytime soon, however id like to see him back in the youth squad next season.
Matt only arrived on the scene late on in the season, but he had an impact. He also showed some versatility playing as an auxiliary defender down in Sydney. He is however better in the final third and that’s where he did his best work. He was an interesting addition to the squad so late, because he’s not eligible for the youth squad next season which indicates Mulvey is atleast considering him for the 1st team next season.
This one needs no introduction and he’s already made his 1st team debut which tells you what the coaching staff thinks of him. In addition to making his A-League debut, he’s also had an impressive season in the nyl down the right hand side, scoring 4 goals. It wouldn’t at all surprise me if he’s in the 1st team squad next season, possibly as a replacement for James Meyer, or Anthony Proia.
Newcastle Jets: 0
Brisbane Roar: 0
Brisbane: Theo, Hingert, North, Donachie, Stefanutto, Brattan, Lustica, Franjic, Nijland, Broich, Berisha.
Subs: Nichols for Brattan (57’) Halloran for Franjic (80’), Henrique for Nijland (80’)
Newcastle: Birighitti, Brillante, Regan, Ritter, Gallaway, Caravella, Zadkovich, Griffiths, Taggart, Bridges, Heskey.
Subs: Cooper for Bridges (66’), Virgili for Taggart (80’), Hoole for Griffiths (90’)
There were no goals, the conditions were dreadful, but Brisbane played some really good stuff at times out there in this one, especially in the 1st half. Newcastle started off the better in the opening minutes and Heskey could have given the hosts the lead, however from there Brisbane dominated the opening 45. Berisha had two or three really good chances to open the scoring however he was denied by some good saves from Birighitti.
The big controversy of the game came just before half time when it seemed like Jade North had given the visitors the lead. He was however denied his debut Brisbane goal by the referee’ assistant who judged that Donachie had clipped the ball just in front of him, therefore making North offside. The replay was inconclusive to say the least and it seemed like the benefit of the doubt should have gone to the attacking team, but that’s the way things have broken for Brisbane this season.
The second have was more even with both sides having their chances to win the game. Zadkovich had the best chance for Newcastle when he produced a good save from Theo around 10 minutes into the second half. Brisbane’ best chance in the second half fell to Mitch Nichols who was unmarked in the box but could only blaze over the goal. The result keeps Newcastle in the top 6, two points clear of Brisbane who are still on the outside looking in with 5 games to play.
The defensive pressure was much better, with the pressing much more co-ordinated and the midfielders (after the opening 10 minutes) tracked the Jets midfield runs well. The defensive pairing of Donachie and North are also growing a solid understanding with the duo the cornerstone of a defence that has now gone over 300 minutes without conceding a goal. And just for the record, North’s’ goal should have stood imo.
The attacking third saw a surprise selection with Ivan Franjic playing on the right wing ahead of Halloran, a move which Mulvey hinted was due to Hingert and Halloran not forming a combination. However for mine Halloran has been below his best in recent weeks, especially in a defensive sense. Franjic did a pretty good job out there on the right, it’s not his best role in the side imo but it’s one he’s capable of playing.
The centre of midfield was one of the biggest issues a month or so ago, however the emergence of Luke Brattan and the arrival of Steve Lustica have provided a good base of the midfield with Brattan’s passing game really beginning to show through. It would have been ideal in hindsight to have Murdocca on the bench tonight as a replacement for Brattan when he had to go off. Nichols did an ok job in there, but playing at the base of midfield isn’t his go, and it also took a little bit away from Lustica who was getting forward and looking to play some good through balls for Berisha.
Im still not yet convinced by Nijlands’ play in the #10 role. For mine he seems a little lost out there on the park and is struggling to have the impact which was expected of a player out of one of the top Eredivise clubs. He is still gaining match fitness, but games are running out, and of all the players in the squad- he’s the one that needs a good run of games right now to make a case for a spot next season.
When it comes to Newcastle, I thought they did reasonably well. They started the game really well and could have been in front early on through Emile Heskey, but after that they gradually lost more and more control of the game to the point were they were just defending at times late in the 1st half. The second half saw they get back into the game once again and they could have gotten a winner late on. Player wise, Michael Bridges wasn’t as good as last weekend, which you could use as a statement for them across the board.
Up next:Brisbane are on the road once again next weekend, for a supposed regional round game which Adelaide are hosting at their regular home ground of Hindmarsh Stadium.
Friday, February 22
Newcastle Jets v Brisbane Roar
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Kick off: 7:30 PM
Referee: Lucien Laverdure
Assistant referee 1: Rodney Allen
Assistant referee 2: Ryan Gallagher
Fourth official: Stephen Lucas
Newcastle Jets squad: 1. Ben Kennedy (gk), 3. Zenon Caravella, 5. Dominik Ritter, 7. James Brown, 8. Ruben Zadkovich (c), 9. Emile Heskey, 12. Josh Brillante, 13. Sam Gallaway, 14. Taylor Regan, 15. Craig Goodwin, 17. James Virgili, 19. Michael Bridges, 20. Mark Birighitti (gk), 22. Adam Taggart, 23. Ryan Griffiths, 25. Mitch Cooper, 26. Andrew Hoole (Two to be omitted)
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Michael Theo (gk), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 4. Matt Jurman, 5. Ivan Franjic, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 9. Stef Nijland, 10. Henrique, 11. Ben Halloran, 12. Julius Doe, 13. Jade North, 14. Steven Lustica, 15. James Donachie, 16. Do Dong-Hyun, 17. Mitch Nichols, 18. Luke Brattan, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Matt Acton (gk), 21. James Meyer, 22. Thomas Broich (c), 25. George Lambadaridis, 26. Corey Brown (Seven to be omitted)
Expected starting line-ups:
Brisbane: Theo, Franjic, North, Donachie, Stefanutto, Lustica, Murdocca, Brattan, Nichols, Broich, Berisha.
Subs: Acton, Hingert, Henrique, Nijland.
Newcastle: Birighitti, Brillante, Regan, Gallaway, Ritter, Zadkovich, Caravella, Taggart, Bridges, Griffiths, Heskey
Subs: Kennedy, Goodwin, Virgili, Cooper
Round 9: Brisbane Roar (Berisha 39’) 1-0 Newcastle Jets
Round 16: Newcastle Jets (Griffiths 48’) 1-0 Brisbane Roar
Head-to-head all time:
Played: 24 – Wins: Jets 9, Roar 9, Drawn: 6
Brisbane Roar: Besart Berisha (12)
Newcastle Jets: Emile Heskey, Ryan Griffiths (9)
Brisbane had a very tough week last week, with long haul flights across the continent and the disappointment of no Asian football this term, but they bounced back on Sunday. Buoyed by the conformation that Mike Mulvey will be sticking around long term, they went out their and did the job amongst difficult conditions- both physically and mentally. And in truth, the pitch did them no favours, but it hasn’t all season. It wasn’t pretty, and against a better side than Wellington they may not have taken maximum points but what’s done is done, it’s time to put on a quality showing with the finals race heating up.
While the team list above may say 7 to be omitted, in reality it’s only the three- with Ivan Franjic, Mitch Nichols and Henrique likely to make their way back into the squad tonight. That means Jurman, Doe, Dong-Hyun and Meyer will all be missing once again, along with an additional three- but whom? Well, to be honest it’s relatively straight forward imo, or atleast two of them are: Franjic comes in at right back, dropping Hingert back to the bench and Corey Brown back into the NYL squad for the final round of that competition. The other change which is virtually guaranteed imo is Nichols returning for Kwame Yeboah, with Nichols’ experience and all round ability being a valuable part of the finals run in. I suspect Henrique will be on the bench tonight- it’s just a matter of who’s spot he takes- it could be Halloran who hasn’t been at his best lately, or it could even be foundation player Mass Murdocca or last weeks goal scorer Steve Lustica. It all depends on how aggressive Mulvey wants to be on the bench. It could go either way, but I’ll guess that it’s Halloran who misses out.
Renowned as the A-League’s tinkerman, Gary van Egmond was obviously impressed by his side last week, because he’s stated earlier in the week that they would have the same starting line-up as last week. That means that the attacking line-up of Bridges, Heskey, Taggart and Griffiths will all start once again which could cause problems for Brisbane. It will however take its toll in a defensive sense as none of them are overly good at tracking back. The midfield has drastically improved since Zenon Carvavella’s arrival and watch out for young Mitch Cooper, the youngster who was at the centre of Gold Coasts’ problems last season is likely to start on the bench, but he had a massive impact last Friday against the Heart.
This is obviously a massive match, a win and Brisbane are into the top 6 with their destiny in their own hands, a loss leaves them 5 points behind a finals spot with Sydney still to play so it is almost a must not lose game for Brisbane. It’s also vitally important to start gaining both form and confidence if Brisbane are going to make a run in the finals and not just limp in and lose 1st week up.
There was some pretty significant news out of Brisbane Roar today, with deep lying midfielder Luke Brattan getting a new contract which will see him staying with the back to back champions until atleast 2015. Brattan ofcourse has grown up in the Brisbane football system, starting off at Rochdale Rovers before becoming an inaugural member of Brisbane’s National Youth League squad where he played for two seasons before earning a 3 year contract from Ange Postecoglou towards the end of the 2009/10 season so it’s nice to see him remain with the club.
His chances at game time in the 1st team were limited by Erik Paartalu of course, who became the ever-present fulcrum on the championship winning teams which resulted in Luke being by and large a squad player. Paartalu’s departure in January however has provided Luke with a chance –which I wrote about at the time– and he’s more than taken it.
Despite being out at the time with an ankle injury, Mulvey had no hesitation into the game at home against Western Sydney and Luke didn’t disappoint, despite being underdone he put in a man of the match performance. That was the beginning of what has been a consistent run in the side for Luke including solid displays against the league leading Mariners, in the Champions League against Buriram and another man of the match performance again on the weekend against Wellington. That run of form has seen Mulvey and the club offer him a well deserved contract.
Brattan’s new deal leaves James Meyer, George Lambadaridis, Mitch Nichols, Matthew Jurman and on-loan duo Steven Lustica and Stef Nijland as the only players off contract right now. Nichols has a decision to make in terms of heading overseas, while Lambadaridis is a 50-50 proposition. Given Donachie has seemingly moved ahead in the pecking order Jurman seems like he’s well and truly headed for the exits while with Meyer im not sure. He’s shown good form when given the chance but he just isn’t getting the chances to play. The on loan duo of Lustica and Nijland are likely still being assessed by Mulvey and coaching staff, but at a guess id say Lustica will stay around, Nijland will return to Europe.
While Luke Brattan has received his chance and earned a new contract, Anthony Proia hasn’t received the same opportunity. Signed by Ange Postecoglou 12 months ago with a view to the future, he wasn’t rated as highly by Rado Vidosic or Mulvey and as such spent his entire time in the youth team. Earlier in the week the young striker tweeted that he was retuning to Sydney and that he was leaving the Roar and im sure everyone wishes him well.
Current Brisbane Roar squad 2013-14 as it currently stands: (17 players signed)
Goalkeepers: Michael Theo, Matt Acton.
Defenders: Matt Smith, Shane Stefanutto, Ivan Franjic, James Donachie, Jack Hingert, Jade North, Corey Brown.
Midfielders: Massimo Murdocca, Luke Brattan, Thomas Broich, Henrique Silva, Ben Halloran, Julius Doe, Do Dong-Hyun.
Forwards: Besart Berisha.
Brisbane Roar: 2 (Lustica 33’, Berisha 49’)
Wellington Phoenix: 0
Crowd: 9,282 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Alan Millner
Brisbane XI: Theo, Hingert, North, Donachie, Stefanutto, Brattan Murdocca, Lustica, Halloran, Broich, Berisha.
Subs: Nijland for Murdocca 73’, Brown for North (78’), Yeboah for Berisha 90’
Wellington XI: Moss, Muscat, Durante, Sigmund, Lochhead, Fenton, Lia, Cernak, Ifill, Boyd, Gameiro.
Subs: Sanchez for Cernak 27’, Huysegems for Ifill 63’
It wasn’t pretty, but Brisbane kept their hopes of scraping into the top 6 alive yesterday with an unconvincing 2-0 win against Wellington. Steven Lustica opened the scoring before Besart Berisha doubled the lead giving Brisbane a positive end to another tumultuous week. The game wasn’t much to write home about with both teams struggling to find form on a difficult field but a win is a win.
The first goal was another positive sign that Mulvey has began to fix the ill’s in the final third with Stefanutto continuing to get forward more often. The other big difference was that instead of players being static in the front third, with Lustica making a nice late run into the box unmarked to finish. It was sloppy defending from Wellington however.
The second goal was no better from Wellingtons’ perspective is even worse with a rather sloppy attempt to play the ball out from the back resulting in Brattan feeding through Berisha for the second goal. It was a nice pass from Brattan however and it’s always a good thing for your striker to be in goal scoring form.
In general however the game wasn’t much to write home about, with the pitch not exactly helping the situation. It’s gotten progressively worse however yesterday was low water mark for the quality of the surface- it was patchy, bumpy and still had markings from an Rugby game 8 days earlier.
On the more positive not it was nice to see Lustica get his 1st goal, he’s had a pretty good start in Roar colours and the goal should be a boost to his confidence. It was also good to see Corey Brown and Kwame Yeboah featured in the matchday squad, especially Yeboah who I was surprised to see yesterday. His appearance makes it 8 debutants for the season.
There isn’t really much to say about Wellington in truth, other than that it seemed like they weren’t at the races yesterday. They seemed desperately short of confidence and only had two real chances in the game, one of which was ruled out for a foul on Jade North which I actually missed. In the end however it wasn’t the strongest of opposition and it would be best to save judgement for when Brisbane begins playing the teams above them.
Brisbane: Theo 6, Hingert 6, North 6, Donachie 6, Stefanutto 6, Brattan 7, Lustica 7, Murdocca 6, Halloran 6, Broich 6, Berisha 7, Nijland 6, Brown 6, Yeboah 6.
Wellington: Moss 6, Muscat 6, Durante 6, Sigmund 6, Lochhead 6, Ifill 6, Cernak 6, Lia 6, Fenton 6, Boyd 6, Gameiro 6, Sanchez 6, Huysegems 6.
Up next:Brisbane begins a two game road trip next weekend which will go a long way to deciding their destiny for the season with a trip to local rivals Newcastle Jets.
Sunday, February 17
Brisbane Roar v Wellington Phoenix
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Kick off: 4:00 PM
Referee: Alan Milliner
Assistant referee 1: Nathan MacDonald
Assistant referee 2: Andrew Lindsay
Fourth official: Adam Kersey
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Michael Theo (gk), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 4. Matt Jurman, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 9. Stef Nijland, 10. Henrique, 11. Ben Halloran, 12. Julius Doe, 13. Jade North, 14. Steven Lustica, 15. James Donachie, 16. DO Dong-Hyun, 17. Mitch Nichols, 18. Luke Brattan, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Matt Acton (gk), 21. James Meyer, 22. Thomas Broich (c), 25. George Lambadaridis, 26. Corey Brown (Five to be omitted)
Ins: 4. Matt Jurman (returns from suspension), 8. Massimo Murdocca (returns from injury), 10. Henrique (returns from injury), 12. Julius Doe (promoted) 16. DO Dong-Hyun (promoted), 21. James Meyer (promoted) 26. Corey Brown (promoted)
Outs: 5. Ivan Franjic
Unavailable: 2. Matt Smith (hip – season)
Wellington Phoenix squad: Mark Paston (GK), 2. Manny Muscat, 3. Tony Lochhead; 4. Isaka Cernak; 7. Leo Bertos, 8. Paul Ifill, 10. Stein Huysegems, 12. Tyler Boyd, 16. Louis Fenton, 17. Vince Lia, 18. Ben Sigmund, 20. Glen Moss (GK), 21. Dani Sanchez, 22. Andrew Durante (C), 23. Corey Gameiro
Ins: 7, Leo Bertos (returns from injury), 18. Ben Sigmund (returns from suspension), 23. Corey Gameiro (new signing)
Outs: 11, Jeremy Brockie (suspended)
Brisbane form: LLWDL
Wellington form: LLDWL
Brisbane top scorer: Besart Berisha (11)
Wellington top scorer: Jeremy Brockie (11)
Round 3: Wellington Phoenix (Huysegmens 16’) 1-1 Brisbane Roar (Berisha 39’)
Round 14:Brisbane Roar (Berisha 14’, Halloran 57’) 2-1 WellingtonPhoenix (Brockie (35’)
Likely starting line-ups:
Brisbane: Theo, Hingert, North, Donachie, Stefanutto, Brattan, Murdocca, Nichols, Nijland, Broich, Berisha.
Subs: Acton, Jurman, Henrique, Halloran
Omitted: Brown, Do, Lustica, Dong-Hyun, Meyer, Lambadaridis
Wellington: Paston, Bertos, Durante, Sigmund, Lochhead, Ifill, Lia, Muscat, Cernak, Boyd, Huysegems.
Subs: Moss, Fenton, Sanchez, Gameiro.
This is really now or never time for Brisbane, there’s still time remaining in the season but it’s not just a matter of scraping in. If you want to do something in the finals you need to have a good run of consistent winning for behind you, and this home game against Wellington would be a great time to start such a run. Wellington themselves are hoping for a similar run at the finals, so it promises to be two desperate sides chasing a season saving win.
Brisbane ofcourse are coming off of a long week of travel which saw their trip to Thailand provide yet another disappointment in a season full of them, however the appointment of Mulvey long term should bring some stability. That should provide some comfort for Wellington as they come to a venue they’re yet to collect a win from.
Tactically for Brisbane, it’s a matter of getting the defence and attack to produce their best on the same day. Currently the trend is for either the defence to be solid and the attack lacking imagination (Wednesday) or for the attack to be fluent and the defence to leak goals (last home game vs. CCM). Ivan Franjic is out with that concussion, so Hingert will start on the right, other than that I don’t foresee too many changes. Meyer, Dong-Hyun and Doe all played youth today so you can rule that trio out for tomorrow.
Wellington will be welcoming in new striker Corey Gameiro into their squad for the 1st time tomorrow and the Fulham striker should offer an interesting option off the bench for Herbert who will be missing top scorer Jeremy Brockie. The midfield is one area for mine where Herbert should be looking for more impetus imo with the combo of Muscat and Lia more a destructive force than a creative one- but it’s counteracted by the two wide guys.
After tomorrow there’s only 6 games remaining so time is running out to make a run at the finals, hopefully the boys in orange return to life on the back of this newfound stability related to the side in the aftermath of the Mulvey re-signing.
“There will be changes through the playing squad.”What I ask is that I’m judged in 12 months time with regards to a full pre-season, settling of my own squad, and then moving forward”. As you would expect Mulvey will not waste any time re-shaping the squad in his mould in an attempt to get the club back to the top of the league. How that looks is anyone’s guess but let’s do some Friday afternoon speculation and I’ll start at the back with the keepers.
1) Michael Theo– Contracted for next season
20) Matt Acton– Contracted for next season
This is the one position where there isn’t really any great need for change. Theo has had another solid season in goal, albeit with the odd brain explosion which tells him to charge off his line. He’s still one of the better keepers in the league however, and with Acton as a backup you have a younger, cheaper squad player which you need in a salary capped league.
2) Matt Smith– Contracted for next season (captain)
3) Shane Stefanutto– Contracted for next season
4) Matthew Jurman– Off contract at end of season
5) Ivan Franjic– Contracted for next season
13) Jade North– Contracted for next season
15) James Donachie– Contracted for next season
19) Jack Hingert– Contracted for next season
26) Corey Brown– Contracted for next season
Defence is one area that is actually set going into next season, with only Matt Jurman out of contract, and his chances of being retained are slim to none. The fullback positions are set with Franjic and Hingert on the right, and Stefanutto and Brown on the left. There’s always a chance that either Franjic moves overseas, or Stefanutto decides to retire but unlikely.
In terms of the heart of defence, I think that’s set in stone aswell. A rejuvenated and fit again Matt Smith will likely start alongside Jade North –a combo we haven’t seen yet- with James Donachie acting as the primary backup. It’s likely that they’ll opt for a 4th– which creates an interesting debate. Promote from within, or go with a player from another club?
The most logical youth player for this role would be Ross Archibald, who’s had 2.5 years in the youth now and was promoted to captain when Geria went to Melbourne. He’s still young enough to play NYL next season, and also provides some versatility to play in midfield if needed. Im not overly concerned at having two young back-ups if it pans out that way- purely because there’s two experienced players to play alongside them, and Donachie has some experience now. The free agent options aren’t overly appealing to be honest with Steve Pantelidis, Nathan Sherlock, Andrew Calver and Brent Griffiths headlining the best of the bunch. Of that lot- id go with Calver purely because he’s young and has some upside- the other 3 wouldn’t offer much and have proven nothing in their time in the league. If it’s not going to be a youth promotion, it might be best to take a look at some Aussies playing overseas, and see if they’re worth going after.
8 ) Massimo Murdocca– Contracted for next season
9) Stefan Nijland– Returns to PSV at end of season (foreign)
14) Steven Lustica– Returns to Hajduk Split at end of season
18 ) Luke Brattan– Off contract at end of season
25) George Lambadaridis– Off contract at end of season (full time NYL deal)
I’ll break the midfield up into central players and wingers, starting with the central players and this for my money, is where Mulvey will either make it, or break it. There is potential for him to make a host of changes necessary here in terms of both players and tactical deployment- however I’ll stick with the former until I see how he rebuilds the midfield.
It’s the central area where Brisbane’s biggest problems have come from with the departure of Erik Paartalu and the inconsistent performances from those in the midfield. If we assume that Mulvey is going to continue the 4-2-3-1 he’s implemented, as opposed to Postecoglou’s patented 4-3-3 (essentially inverting the triangle in midfield) were looking for specific types of players.
In terms of central players, there’s a lot of room here for Mulvey to set this up any way he wants to, with only foundation player Massimo Murdocca signed up. Amongst his first decisions in this area are the trio of Lustica, Lambadaridis and Brattan who are all up for new deals. It’s a fair bet that Brattan will get one since he was thrown into the deep end before he was fit when Paartalu left- while Lambadaridis hasn’t got a regular opportunity to date. Mulvey must also decide once and for all on where to play Broich- either make him the #10, or the left winger and fill the other position with someone else. Personally, I think he’s best out on the left where he can cut in side- but that was when there was nobody in the middle. For mine he hasn’t really shown much through the middle when in there however and id leave him on the left.
In terms of new players in the middle he’s likely to be looking for both ball winners and a creative edge. The latter of that is likely going to have to come from a foreign signing because Australia doesn’t produce enough of those type of players. In terms of deeper lying types the best two internal options are the aforementioned Archibald, and Ben Liftin- both QAS graduates. They’re different types of players with Archibald being a ball winning/Paartalu type, while Liftin is similar to a young Nichols.
League wide options include Barbiero, Bozanic, M. Thomson, Kalmar, Celeski, Ward, Triantis and Reid. Again, hardly the most appetising options with Celeski and young Triantis –who scored at the weekend against Brisbane are the best fits for mine. The best option of all for mine however is currently a free agent, and that’s Jason Culina. He could fit in perfectly to the base of the midfield do a good job in there. With Culina- the biggest concern is his knee, but a 1 year deal is a low risk/high reward one imo. The other thing which cannot be ruled out imo is Mulvey making a play for one or more of his young GC midfielders. Daniel Bragg is only on a youth deal at CCM and wouldn’t require any compensation to the Mariners, while Jake Barker-Daish of Adelaide and Mitch Cooper and Josh Brillante of Newcastle have been sparingly used this season and could be made available. Their current clubs would have to agree to release them however.
16) Do Dong-Hyun– Contracted for next season (foreign)
17) Mitch Nichols– Off contract at end of season
22) Thomas Broich– Contracted for next season (foreign) (marquee)
12) Julius Davies– Contracted for next season
10) Henrique– Contracted for next season (foreign)
11) Ben Halloran– Contracted for next season
In terms of the wingers, the players are already here for mine, with Nichols being the only potential change, and that’s solely up to him I quite like Mulvey’s deployment of him as a right sided winger in recent weeks. Other than Mitch, the only things to point out here are that Henrique is eligible for Australian citizenship before next season which could free up a foreign spot- assuming he stays which is no guarantee imo. With Broich likely to stay on the left and Halloran on the right, Mulvey has the quality in these areas, and it’s all about depth and options- starting with Doe. If they can somehow find a take –or do the Vise trick like with Danning- for Dong- Hyun who’s been a disappointment they could have two foreign spots free. (3 if Nijland doesn’t stick long term) If a spot does open up here Kwame Yeboah is by far the best candidate to take it. There’s other areas of the squad of more concern.
7) Besart Berisha– Contracted for next season (foreign)
21) James Meyer– Off contract at end of season
23) Anthony Proia– Contracted for next season
Finally, we move to the strikers and unless there’s a change in formation this isn’t an area of great concern for mine. Infact the biggest issue isn’t new players, it’s getting Berisha back to his best, which again brings you to the service from the midfield. Berisha will however need a back-up that the coach trusts, possibly two to make sure they have the required depth.
Meyer has been really quite excellent when given the chance, the problem is he hasn’t got the chance as often as he’s needed to establish himself. For mine however he’s still a dangerous attacker and worthy of a spot in the side. Proia is another personally id keep around, I think he’s a dangerous option who would grow into the role. Mulvey however is no fan of his and I expect him to move on before next season and the club has already said they won’t stand in his way.
External options here include Kostopoulos, Jesic and Mirijan Pavlovic- none of whom have done a terrible amount and none would really add anything. There was some speculation that Mulvey was in for Harold in January and he may re-visit that idea. Youth strikers Kwame Yeboah (more of a winger) and Matt Thurtell are unlikely to get a chance in this role.
Just to wrap this up, the key areas of need for mine is the midfield, with two differing types needed.
1) #10 type player to play in the hole and create centrally
2) Deeper midfielder to win the ball and start attacks
3) Miscellaneous depth pieces