Thoughts on the first half of the season

With the Asian Cup break this season it provides a nice break to take stock and assess what’s happened to date, and take a look ahead to the second half of the season. In coming days we’ll take a look at player performances the January transfer window, but to kick things off today it’s just a few points on the season to date.

1) No doubt things haven’t gone to plan this season. While im sure a lot of people expected some kind of drop off on last seasons results given the squad turnover, to be sitting 4 points outside of the top 6 and a massive 20 points* off the top of the table certainly wasn’t what was expected. *By the time you’re reading this it may be up to 23 points off the top of the table depending on tonight’s game between Perth and Adelaide.

2) Statistically through the opening 13 games of the season, this is Brisbane’s worst start to a season with the lowest points tally, amount of wins and an equally high loss tally. There are obviously reasons for that –injuries, squad turnover, uncertainly, however the results have been poor.

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3) Despite it statistically being the worst start to a season, to me this isn’t the worst time I’ve seen in Brisbane’s 10 year history. To me the 2009-10 season when we went through derby defeats, a drink driving saga which lead to a coaching change, poor on field discipline, poor results and a stack of other factors made that a far worse season. No question this season hasn’t been as fun as others in recent years, but it’s certainly not the worst either.

4) This season has definitely been one of change with a number of key players departing, in addition to Head Coach Mike Mulvey departing the club in the past six months. One illustration of the changes that have taken place this season is to look at the team that took the field against Western Sydney in the Grand Final, and how many of them are still here. Matt Smith (Bangkok), Liam Miller (Melb. City), Ivan Franjic (Torpedo Moscow) and Besart Berisha (Melb. Victory) have all departed, while Michael Theo, Thomas Broich and Shane Stefanutto have all spent large parts of the season to date on the injury table. That leaves just Jade North, Dimitri Petratos, Luke Brattan and Matt McKay as players who were part of the starting side last season who have been a regular this season. That’s just four of the eleven from the Grand Final side who have been regularly available this season.

5) While it’s too soon to judge the work Frans Thijssen has done to date, it’s fair to say that things haven’t been fantastic so far. One win, three draws and two losses from six games is hardly the outcome that the front office would have been hoping for from when they made the change, however it’s the time from after the mid-season break through until the end of the season that was at the forefront of their minds. The time to judge Frans is approaching with a transfer window at his disposal and 14 games + Champions League left, but for now it hasn’t been a fantastic start.

6)  One of the more troubling trends that has emerged in recent weeks is what has a series of sub par performances that go against the clubs philosophy. In recent games we’ve seen a shift towards a more direct style of game, a style which doesn’t suit the personnel Brisbane currently has, and is against the clubs philosophy of possession, attacking, pass and move football. Hopefully the Asian Cup break, along with the return of injured players and new signings is enough to correct that. While the perfmances all season haven’t been great, the most recent games against Sydney and Wellington rank highly on the list of worst performances.  The best would probably be the win away to Adelaide, where Brisbane controlled the game reasonably well for an hour before being overrun in the final 30 minutes.

7) Every team has injuries, but it’s hard to think of many other teams that have had the run of injuries that Brisbane have this season. So far this season Brisbane have had the following: Theo- wrist (13 games), Stefanutto (4 games), Sarota (8 games), Lambadaridis (13 games), Kurtishi (2 games), Brattan (0 games but missed large chunks of pre-season), Hingert (8 games), Solórzano (1 game) and Broich (6 games).  That’s without doubt a significantly higher injury list, and im not sure what the reasoning is. It could be something to do with a softer pre-season, a change in training, or just bad luck. Obviously injuries are not an excuse, but there’s no doubting they’ve played a factor this season.

8) One of the more positive aspects of the season to date is the emergence of a few young players who could form part of the next generation. Corey Brown and James Donachie have been apart of the first team squad for the past couple of seasons, and due to injuries and upheaval in the squad both have got their chance this season on a regular basis. Brown (7 starts) has now gone a long way to making that left back spot his own going forward, while Donachie (7 start, 2 sub) has now finally got a run of games at his natural centre back role. Other youngsters like Brandon Borrello, Shannon Brady and Devante Clut have also had chances this season, with Borrello (5 start, 5 sub, 1 goal) now establishing himself in the matchday squad. Given the success of the National Youth League side this season, it could be that other youngsters such as Ben Litfin, Patrick Theodore, Lachlan Jackson and Samuel Sibatuara may get their chance in the second half of the year.

9) If things panned out differently, we may have seen another youngster get his chance in the side- Matt Acton. Mulvey and the rest of the coaching staff went in another direction and we’ll never know what Acton could have done and how much he would of developed if he had the opportunity to play these 13 games, but it would have been nice to see. Acton will now in all likelihood depart Brisbane once again, as his injury replacement contract has come to an end.

10) Obviously there will be a bunch of changes to come over the next month or so. The Australian January transfer window runs from Jan 14- Feb 14 so there’s another week or so before things are likely to be confirmed.  Jerome Polenz seems is likely to be the first to confirmed, however there are no doubt a few moves to be made in addition to that. More on that in the coming days.

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