Mitch Nichols heads to Melbourne

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Im sure everyone’s already seen the news and it’s not exactly a major surprise, but over the weekend Mitch Nichols has decided to leave Brisbane and join up with Melbourne Victory. He’s been a player whose divided opinion amongst fans but the fact remains he’s one of just three players to play 100 games for this club and as a home-grown player he’s yet another success story. Today we’ll take a quick look back at Mitch’s time with Brisbane, and also what it might mean going forward.

Mitch ofcourse has been at the club since the 2006/07 season where he first got his chance under Frank Farina, and although he was overshadowed by the wing trio of Michael Zullo, Robbie Kruse and Tahj Minnieccon he still showed glimpses back then of what was to come. It was however the 2007/08 season where he really began to impress.

After influential Scottish import Charlie Miller picked up a long term hernia injury, Mitch was given his chance to start on a regular basis in the hole behind Sergio van Djik, and he took it with both hands, scoring five goals and helping Queensland to the finals. That form also earned him a Socceroos cap in an Asian Cup qualifier. The 2009/10 season saw Mitch become an ever-present in the side, however his form dropped significantly in what was a disappointing season for the club as a whole and at time when there were significant changes to all aspects of the club.

He bounced back however along with all of his teammates the following season to become apart of the first Brisbane side to win a trophy, playing a key role in the Premiership/Championship double scoring 6 goals and assisting 6 others. It was however the 2011-12 season that was his best. 10 goals and 5 assists from midfield proved to make him one of the league’s premier attacking midfielders and earned him another national team call-up. His solid performances also attracted the interest of European clubs- however that failed to eventuate and he returned for a 6th season this past year.

Again, this past year was far from his best, but similarly to the team as a whole his form picked up towards the end of the competition and he became a key component once again to Mulvey’s attacking strategy. For mine, Mitch is a confidence player, whose form tends to mirror that of the team as a whole. When the team is functioning properly and playing well, he plays his best football, but when things are going wrong his form can drop.

Just what sort of a loss is Mitch? Well he’s a pretty big loss for a number of reasons Firstly there’s the whole ‘local kid who came through the ranks’ part and it’s always good to see young Brisbane or Queensland talent come through and play for the Roar. Those are largely sentimental reasons however, and he’s also a big loss in football terms.

Whatever your opinion on him as a player, finding good Australian attacking midfielders is not an easy task, and that explains why multiple clubs were chasing him for next season. Because the reality is- unless you manage to attract a Nick Carle or Dario Vidosic as marquee players, you’re left largely with younger players with upside- and there’s no guarantee they’ll work out. It’s because of that, that any replacement for Mitch will almost certainly be a foreigner and as we’ve seen throughout history that’s always a somewhat risky proposition.

This quote from his new boss Ange Postecoglou sums the situation around Australian attacking midfielders up perfectly: “Goal-scoring midfielders aren’t easy to come by and Mitch’s track-record speaks for itself, so I’m looking forward to seeing him on the first day of pre-season training.” There’s no doubt Brisbane will miss Mitch, but he can be replaced, and now it’s up to Mulvey and the rest of the football department to fill what is a vital hole in the side with the right player. The Roar Review thanks Mitch for his time in Brisbane, and wishes him well into the future.

Mitch Nichols:
Games: 125 (2nd most in club history)
Goals: 24 (3rd most in club history)
Achievements:– 2 A-League Championships (2010-11, 2011-12)
– 1 A-League Premiership (2010-11)
– First goal in club history in the AFC Champions League

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