Changes for next season

“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.

 

 

Goalkeepers:

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.

 

 

Defenders:

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.

 

 

Midfielders:
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.

 

 

Wingers:

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.

 

 

Forwards:
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

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