Young midfielder joins Brisbane as keeper re-signs

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Brisbane have bolstered their already strong midfield stocks with the arrival of young midfielder Joe Caletti.

Caletti, 17, arrives in Brisbane on the back of a strong season with the FFA Centre of Excellence in the National Youth League.

Caletti also captained the Joeys at last years u/17 World Cup, where Australia beat Argentina and drew with Mexico on the way to the knockout stages where they lost to Nigeria in the round of 16.

A young midfielder, Caletti will be looking to learn his trade from Spanish import Corona, with the teenager having a similar style to the Spaniard.

While Caletti will likely spend some time training with the first team squad, it’s likely that he’ll get the majority of his playing time initially in the clubs youth ranks, with the 2016 NPL Queensland season set to get underway early next month.

Meanwhile goalkeeper Jamie Young has penned a two year contract extension with the Roar, which will see him remain with Brisbane through the 2017-18 season.

Young, who arrived in Brisbane as the back-up to three time championship winner with Brisbane Michael Theo, however a string of injuries to Brisbane #1 has allowed him to make 44 appearances so far, including 14 this year.

The move will keep Brisbane’s depth in goals- which is amongst the strongest in the league- in tact.

Some will be quick to draw the conclusion that this means that Theo will depart when his contract expires at the end of next season, but I think that’s still a long way from being decided. This is just a move which makes sense, and keeps the clubs depth.

These moves are the first to be confirmed since the free-agency period began back on December first, as John Aloisi and Craig Moore begin to work through an extensive list of out of contract players.

Amongst those out of contract are youngster’s first team regulars Jack Hingert, Jade North, Henrique, Steven Lustica, Brandon Borrello and Daniel Bowles, while the likes of Javier Hervas, James Donachie, Jean Carlos Solórzano and Devante Clut are all out of contract at seasons end.

Shane Stefanutto is also out of contract, however the veteran full-back has indicated he will be retiring at the end of the campaign.

Brisbane Roar squad for 2016/17 and beyond as at 28/01/16
Goalkeepers– Michael Theo, Jamie Young, Corey Brown.
Defenders- Jerome Polenz (fgn), Luke DeVere.
Midfielders– Corona (fgn), Matt McKay (marquee), Dimitri Petratos, Thomas Broich (marquee) (fgn), Joe Caletti (FT NYL).
Forwards– Jamie Maclaren, Shannon Brady.

 


Round 15 A-League Preview- Brisbane Roar vs. Melbourne Victory

**The following is a re-post of something I posted over at Football Central- originally dated 15/01/16

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Round 15 of the 2015-16 season see’s Brisbane play their first game of the season against Melbourne Victory in what should be an entertaining affair between two of the leagues better sides.

Having waited until the second half of the season, it’s perhaps a bit of a shame that the game will be without some key players on both sides. The hosts are without 5 young players including the likes of Connor Pain and Jason Geria, while Daniel Georgievski is suspended and Carl Valeri is sidelined longer term.

Brisbane meanwhile will be without Olyroos trio Jamie Maclaren, Brandon Borrello and James Donachie.

Last week Brisbane went across the Tasman and played out a 0-0 stalemate with the Phoenix, a result which sent Brisbane 1 point clear at the top of the table. There weren’t too many clear cut scoring chances in the game which is understandable given the attacking talent both sides went into the game without due to injury, suspension and Olyroos call-ups.

Melbourne meanwhile came from three goals down at half time to rescue a point late on against Central Coast last Friday down in Geelong. It was a typical game of two halves, with the Mariners slick counter attacking along with some sloppy Melbourne defending allowing the cellar dwellers a 3-0 lead at the break, before Victory stormed back into the game in the second half and nearly won the game themselves.

This weeks game however figures to be vastly different to the excitement of that encounter, with John Aloisi’s side bringing the leagues stingiest defence to the Victorian capital for the clash, with the Roar having conceded just 12 goals in 14 matches this season- a feat matched by only Sydney FC.

Squads
Brisbane Roar
1) Michael Theo, 3) Shane Stefanutto, 5) Corey Brown, 7) Corona, 8) Steven Lustica, 10) Henrique, 11) Jean Carlos Solórzano, 13) Jade North, 14) Daniel Bowles, 16) Devante Clut, 17) Matt McKay, 18) Javier Hervas, 19) Jack Hingert, 20) Shannon Brady, 21) Jamie Young, 22) Thomas Broich, 23) Dimitri Petratos, 33) Luke DeVere
*Two to be omitted.

Melbourne Victory
1) Danny Vukovic, 4) Nick Ansell, 6) Leigh Broxham, 7) Gui Finkler, 8) Besart Berisha, 9) Kosta Barbarouses, 10) Archie Thompson, 13) Oliver Bozanic, 14) Fahid Ben Khalfallah, 16) Rashid Mahazi, 17) Mathieu Delpierre, 18) Dylan Murnane, 19) George Howard, 20) Lawrence Thomas, 22) Jesse Makarounas, 23) Jai Ingham, 32) Stefan Nigro, 33) Joey Katebian.

Expected Brisbane XI
Young, Hingert, Bowles, North, Stefanutto, Corona, McKay, Petratos, Broich, Henrique, Solórzano.
Substitutes: Theo, Brown, Lustica, Hervas, Brady.
Omitted: DeVere, Clut.

Despite dropping two points in Wellington on Sunday, it’s likely that John Aloisi will opt for the same side in this encounter, particularly with doubts over the fitness of Corona removed. That means that both Henrique and Jean Carlos Solórzano will retain their places in the starting line-ups for the clash.

On the bench, Michael Theo is set to replace youth GK Andre Jannese, however Luke DeVere is reportedly going to play another game in the youth league prior to the A-League tonight. Despite the side failing to score or create too much last week, it’s unlikely Devante Clut –who was denied the chance to join Newcastle this week- will get a spot on the bench.

Expected Melbourne XI
Vukovic, Mahazi, Broxham, Delpierre, Murnane, Bozanic, Makarounas, Finkler, Ben Khalfallah, Barbarouses, Berisha.
Substitutes: Thomas, Ansell, Nigro, Ingham, Thompson.
Omitted: Howard, Katebian.

Victory is a harder side to gauge a reading on, with Daniel Georgievski suspension leaving a big hole in the home sides defence for this one. Conventional wisdom would suggest Nick Ansell –who returned via the bench last week- would come into the side at the back, but according to reports he’s not yet match fit so it could be that Rashid Mahazi is asked to perform a job at right back.

On the bench it will be interesting to see which youngsters Kevin Muscat opts for, young Katebian was impressive in the NYL when I saw him here in December, but with so much attacking talent in the side he might find it hard to get a look in. Young midfielder Stefan Nigro might be the man for the final bench spot to provide some midfield cover.

Recent form
Melbourne: DWDLL
Brisbane: DWWWW

Top Scorer
Melbourne: Besart Berisha (10)
Brisbane: Jamie Maclaren (7)

All-Time Record against Melbourne Victory

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Pourre focused on stabilising Roar

**The following is a re-post of something I posted over at Football Central- originally dated 12/01/1

After a tough 2015 Brisbane Roar CEO David Pourre isn’t looking too far ahead as we enter the New Year, with the aim for the year to see out the current repayment of debt and to see the club continue on its current path.

In an exclusive interview yesterday the Roar CEO touched on how the club has rebounded from the financial crisis, and some of the successes of the first half of the season.


Updating the financial situation

Brisbane’s CEO was unequivocal about how difficult things were in the past off-season, when he stepped up to help save the club in the wake of what he called an extremely difficult time with a handful of staff keeping the club running.
Things have improved since then however with Pourre confirming that all players and staff had now been fully back paid, which includes superannuation and bonuses in line with the ownerships previous commitment of clearing the situation up by January.

That however was brought forward by a month in line with the regulations of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. While wages are now up to date, the clubs debt from past administrations is still being repaid with Pourre indicating the original plan for repayments was still on track.

Pourre went on to outline his belief that the clubs Indonesian owners are still fully committed to the Roar for the long term, citing the arrival of representatives Rahim Soekasah and Demis Djamaoeddin to oversee the business as a positive while saying that he will support the ownership group while that remains the case.

Talking about on-field matters
On field topics were only briefly discussed with Pourre outlining that discussions are underway with a number of the clubs out of contract players, and Pourre was hopeful that there would be some positive news on that front in the coming weeks.

One of those players in particular, James Donachie, was a surprise admission to the out of contract list, with Pourre reluctant to discuss the situation, saying that the Roar are ‘fully committed to fulfilling their part of the original contract’ which would see Donachie remain in Brisbane through the end of next season.

Pourre also outlined that while the football department are disappointed the youth side can no longer qualify for the Grand Final, they are very happy with the performances this season and the development of individuals within the squad.

The football department are also happy with the performances of the W-League side this season, whose bounce back to the finals for this season is almost complete, with a win in the final round this weekend against the Jets securing their place.

On crowds for the 2015/16 season
One of the big positives of the first half of the season has been the crowd figures at Suncorp Stadium, including the season high of 17,696 in the most recent home game against Perth Glory. That figure, albeit boosted by the recent ‘Kids Go Free’ initiative –which Pourre explained came from the club CEO’s at a recent meeting- is indicative of an increase in crowds this season which should only continue with traditional high drawing fixtures to come in the second half of the season.

On the regional game in Cairns
Recently Brisbane played their first A-League home game outside of Brisbane taking their regional home game to Cairns, an experiment Pourre described as a ‘resounding success’ citing the community work done in the lead-up to the game, the enthusiasm from the local government and the crowd attendance as hugely positive.

Pourre also admitted that it was a process he would consider again in future seasons, possibly as soon as next season referencing the recent example of Central Coast moving their regional home game to Geelong. The CEO also outlined his and the clubs belief that the population up and down the state, made regional parts of Queensland such as Cairns, Townsville along with the Gold and Sunshine Coasts as prime candidates to host regional games in future seasons.

Despite the success of the regional game experiment in Cairns, Pourre was adamant that the club would not move any of the clubs 13 home games away from Suncorp Stadium, confirming that discussions were underway for a new deal, with the current one set to expire at seasons end.

On Community engagement
On the topic of community engagement, Pourre outlining the clubs desire to remain humble with what they do in that sector of the club, saying that the experience provided is more important than any public goodwill gained in the process. He also went into detail about the clubs Roar Active Program, which will continue to move into the schools system this year.

Miscellaneous
The club are supportive of the guest player concept, however any decisions on that front will be firstly made by the football department on what they bring to the side, before they consider the financial cost and benefits of the player.

While there isn’t any news on high profile off-season friendlies, the club are always open to the possibility of those games. Pourre also briefly touched on support for the club from the local and state government, which he described as improving and he is hopeful that will continue and begin to bring some results in the future.

Pourre also provided an update on a regular question at recent fan forums, and outlined that plans are in place for supporters to be able to attend this year’s end of season gala, with the club waiting to hear back from the venue before confirming the details. There will also be another fan forum before the end of the season.


Disciplinary record- January

**The following is a re-post of something I posted over at Football Central- originally dated 05/01/16

Over the course of the season we’ll keep tabs on the yellow and red cards handed out each week across the A-League. It all adds up to the ‘Fair play Award’ on the A-League’s annual awards night, an award which was won last season by Wellington Phoenix.

Brisbane Roar have been the most successful disciplined side of the first decade, winning the award on five occasions including four straight from 2010-11 through 2013-14. Other winners include Melbourne Victory, Perth Glory, Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC. The full list of winners is below.

2005-06: Melbourne Victory
2006-07:  Perth Glory
2007-08:  Newcastle Jets
2008-09:  Brisbane Roar
2009-10:  Sydney FC
2010-11:  Brisbane Roar
2011-12:  Brisbane Roar
2012-13:  Brisbane Roar
2013-14:  Brisbane Roar
2014-15: Wellington Phoenix

For those unaware, the award is decided on a points system, with points accrued for Yellow Cards, Second Yellow Cards and Straight Red Cards.

Here’s a breakdown on how the points system works:
1 Point- Yellow Card
2 Points- Second Yellow Card
3 Points- Red Card

All data in this series is collated from the official match reports posted on the A-League website.

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Starting with the league wide table, and table leading Brisbane Roar have the best discipline record over the past month with just the seven yellow cards accrued, with Adelaide and Melbourne City tied for second.

At the other end of the scale Wellington Phoenix have had the worst discipline record in the last month with 16 yellow cards and a second yellow for a total of 18 points, one point worse than Western Sydney Wanderers.

Overall Brisbane Roar have extended their lead in the fair play table with just 16 yellow cards in 10 rounds, with second played Western Sydney Wanderers having picked up double the points in the same period of time.

Meanwhile Wellington Phoenix have the worst disciplinary record of the season so far, with 41 yellow cards at an average of four per game, with Sydney FC and Melbourne City rounding out the bottom 3.

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Onto the player table, and a number of players have now accrued five yellow cards picking up a one match ban, with Paulo Retre (City), Jason Hoffman (Jets), Marc Warren (Perth), Filip Holosko (Sydney), Roly Bonevacia and Alex Rodriguez (Wellington) and Scott Neville and Andreu Mayoral (West Sydney) all picking up at least five cards this season.

So far 137 players have picked up cautions this season, with Perth Glory having the most players on the list with 17, while at the other end of the scale Brisbane lead the way with just 10.

All up there have been 312 yellow cards shown in the 2015-16 season at an average of 4.8 per game, which is down from the 4.9 average in the last update.

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Since the last update, Sydney’s Alex Gersbach has joined Jake McGing as the only players to receive a straight red card this season, while Paul Izzo and Albert Riera picked up second yellow cards in the past month.

The next update will be at the conclusion of round 17 which will include all games up to and including 31/01.


Round 13 Preview- Brisbane Roar vs. Perth Glory

**The following is a re-post of something I posted over at Football Central- originally dated 01/01/16

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2016 is here – Happy New Year to those reading this- and the first task in the new year for Brisbane Roar is a home clash against Perth Glory.

Both sides enter this clash in some good form, with Brisbane on a three game winning streak, while Perth Glory are on a four game unbeaten run.

Last week saw Brisbane return to Suncorp Stadium for the first time in a month and they put on their best performance of the season in a 3-1 win over third placed Melbourne City.

That result guaranteed Brisbane a top two spot as the league enters the second half of the season and keeps them within touching distance of the league leading Western Sydney Wanderers.

Perth meanwhile went to Melbourne to play a Victory side which hadn’t won in its previous four games, and they came away with a point and plenty of plaudits after coming from a goal behind due to a controvertial penalty.

Brisbane squad 3) Shane Stefanutto, 5) Corey Brown, 7) Corona, 9) Jamie Maclaren, 10) Henrique, 11) Jean Carlos Solórzano, 13) Jade North, 14) Daniel Bowles, 15) James Donachie, 16) Devante Clut, 17) Matt McKay, 18) Javier Hervas, 19) Jack Hingert, 21) Jamie Young, 22) Thomas Broich, 23) Dimitri Petratos, 28) Brandon Borrello, 36) Andre Jannese.
*Two to be omitted.

Perth Squad 1) Ante Covic, 2) Alex Grant, 3) Marc Warren, 5) Antony Golec, 7) Gyorgy Sandor, 11) Richard Garcia, 12) Jerrad Tyson, 13) Diogo Ferreira, 14) Chris Harold, 15) Hagi Gligor, 17) Diego Castro, 18) Mitch Oxborrow, 19) Josh Risdon, 23) Michael Thwaite, 24) Jamal Reiners, 25) Jacob Collard, 28) Joe Knowles, 29) Aryn Williams.
*Two to be omitted.

It’s unlikely that Brisbane will make any changes to the side which played so well against City last Sunday. If a change were to be made, it would be Henrique returning to the side, however it would be harsh to drop Borrello based on last week’s performance.

DeVere, Theo, and probably Brown and Clut will all see game time in the NYL on Sunday ahead of next week’s trip to Wellington when the Olyroos players depart.

Expected Brisbane XI
Young, Hingert, Bowles, North, Stefanutto, Corona, McKay, Petratos, Broich, Borrello, Maclaren.
Substitutes: Jannese, Donachie, Hervas, Henrique, Solórzano.
Omitted: Brown, Clut.

Perth played well last week in Melbourne and could have won the game in the end, so it’s unlikely that Kenny Lowe will make any changes from the starting XI. If he were to make a change, it would likely be on the bench where he seemingly lacks attacking options, so perhaps one of Williams or Golec would be left out for young striker Joe Knowles.

Expected Perth XI
Covic, Risdon, Thwaite, Grant, Warren, Ferreira, Sandor, Garcia, Harold, Castro, Reiners.
Substitutes: Tyson, Williams, Oxborrow, Gligor, Golec.
Omitted: Collard, Knowles.

Recent form
Brisbane: WWWLD
Perth: DDWWL

Top Scorer Brisbane: Jamie Maclaren (6)
Perth: Diego Castro (4)

2015-16 Against Perth Glory Round 6– Brisbane Roar 1-0 Perth Glory

All-Time Record against Perth Glory

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A look back on 2015

**The following is a re-post of something I posted over at Football Central- originally dated 31/12/15

2015 has been a decidedly mixed bag for Brisbane Roar, with some good on field performances and an off-season financial saga which threatened the existence of the club. As 2015 winds down, lets look back on the year as a whole.

2015 began for the Roar in Wellington for the clubs final outing before the break for the AFC Asian Cup. A 3-0 loss to the Phoenix was indicative of the Roar’s start to their title defence and left new manager Frans Thijssen a lot of work to do in the second half of the season.

That work began in the transfer market, with the recruitment of Jerome Polenz, Andrija Kaluderovic and Luke DeVere, who returned to Brisbane following a four year spell in the K-League all joining the team as they set about a second half resurgence.

Going the other way was Mensur Kurtisi, who headed for the Italian lower leagues following a disappointing six months in Brisbane, with just one goal from 10 appearances.

The resumption of the league saw Brisbane again playing the Phoenix, however this time at home an injury time winner from Jean Carlos Solórzano gave Brisbane all three points and propelled the Roar on a three game winning run.

Attention then turned to the continent with the start of the 2015 AFC Champions League which saw Brisbane drawn in Group G with Beijing Guo’an, Suwon Bluewings and Urawa Red Diamonds, however due to a concert at Suncorp Stadium the Roar moved the home games south to the Gold Coast.

Brisbane’s ACL campaign began on the Gold Coast against Beijing, and after dominating the game against a 10 man Beijing side, it was the visitors who snatched all three points in stoppage time thanks to a Shao Jiayi free-kick.

The Roar then embarked on arguably their toughest –and most exciting- trip of the campaign as they headed to Japan to face Urawa, and it turned into a historic night for the club.

Brandon Borrello’s early goal, which precious few people saw due to an overlap in the TV schedule was enough to give Brisbane a famous win, their first in the competition and kept their hopes of a knockout round appearance alive.

Back in the A-League Brisbane’s strong start following the Asian Cup break was beginning to fizzle out, with a run of five games without a win leaving them in 7th place and a long shot to make the finals.

Included in that run of five games without a win was a home game against the Phoenix, which ended after 70 minutes after the referee concluded that the pitch was no longer safe. In accordance to the FFA rules, the half time score of 2-1 to the Phoenix was adjudged to be the final score much to Brisbane’s displeasure.

The following week saw Brisbane travel to Melbourne to take on City in what was billed as a decided for 6th spot and it was the home side that took the points thanks to an early goal from Jonatan Germano. This game however is more commonly remembered as the game where Brisbane failed to make a single substitution, despite chasing the game.

Back in Asia, Brisbane welcomed K-League side Suwon to Queensland in the first of two back to back clashes which would go a long way to deciding the fate of both sides in the competition. Brisbane got off to a flyer with two early goals from Borrello and Devante Clut, before the Koreans got one back right on half time.

The second half saw the visitors continue their resurgence and two further goals gave them what looked to be a vital three points, before a sensational late strike from Clut gave the Roar a precious point.

That result put extra emphasis on the next game in the group and after a tense and even 45 minutes in Suwon, Brisbane collapsed at the start of the second half with the home side scoring 3 goals in 20 minutes to put the match to bed. Nothing short of a win in China on Matchday 5 would now be enough for the Roar.

Back home with the finals seemingly out of reach, Brisbane caught a massive stroke of fortune, with Perth Glory thrown out of the finals picture following a drawn out investigation into salary cap breaches. Glory were relegated to 7th at the conclusion of the season, and with none of the bottom 3 sides able to challenge the Roar, Brisbane were assured of a 5th straight finals appearance.

That news seemed to buoy the players, with a comprehensive 6-1 rout of Central Coast at home the following day. The result was Brisbane’s best of the season, and their best since the 7-1 rout of Adelaide in late 2011.

Following another win in Adelaide, the regular season concluded with three home games, two of which were against Melbourne Victory which meant a first return to the Queensland capital for former Brisbane striker Besart Berisha.

The Albanian did what he does best upon his return, scoring the winner in the first game, before a dubious penalty gave the Victory a 1-0 win in the second. For the Roar, this game was most memorable for all the youth who got a chance with Lachlan Jackson, Luke Pavlou, Abrahim Yango, Shannon Brady and Patrick Theodore all getting their chance to shine as they held the league leaders.

The kids got another chance to shine in the final game of the season against Newcastle and it was one of the youngsters in the form of Lachlan Jackson which gave Brisbane all three points. In the end Brisbane finished 6th on 34 points, ensuring a trip to 3rd placed Adelaide in the Elimination Final.

That finals clash at the Adelaide Oval started badly for Brisbane with an early strike from Craig Goodwin giving the home side the lead, before Thomas Broich equalised for the Roar. The second half was an open, free flowing affair however it was the home side which secured a path to the Semi-Finals thanks to a late Awer Mabil strike. The A-League title defence was officially over.

That left just the ACL to play for and after a gritty win in Beijing two weeks earlier, Brisbane returned to the Gold Coast to take on Urawa with an outside shot of progressing. In order to do so they’d need to win and hope that there was a winner in the other game. A poor goal differential was an obstacle, however all of that was irrelevant with Urawa winning 2-1, a result which ended Brisbane’s season.

Less than 24 hours following that defeat to Urawa, Director of Football Ken Stead announced his resignation from the role, with Managing Director Sean Dobson announcing his departure the following week as the first signs of what would be a turbulent off-season emerged.

It was then time for the off-season departures, with Adam Sarota, Ben Litfin, Kofi Danning, George Lambadaridis, Lachlan Jackson and Andrija Kaluderovic all departing Brisbane.

Manager Frans Thijssen was also to depart Brisbane following the upcoming Villarreal friendly, with Ramon Tribulietx all but appointed Brisbane boss. An 11th hour change of heart occurred however, with John Aloisi officially handed the reigns on May 26. Aloisi would take charge from the pre-season in July.

Despite all the uncertainty, Brisbane came out for the friendly against Villarreal and played one of their best games of the year in a 3-0 rout of the Spanish side with Devante Clut again the standout.

The financial saga at the Roar continued to worsen and on 23rd the situation was again reported with ‘serious liabilities’ uncovered in the books according to a leaked internal email while staff wages were also well behind. Despite all of that the club announced the appointment of Craig Moore in the Football Operations Manager role the same day.

The clubs financial dramas worsened as the pre-season drew nearer with the club scrambling to find a training base just days before the players were due to return, while former manager Mike Mulvey was preparing legal action over his departure from Brisbane.

The saga was now beginning to affect on field matters as well, with the Roar withdrawing from two NPL Queensland clashes in North Queensland, a move which was condemned by Football Queensland despite the claims of fixture congestion by the Roar.

July saw little relief off the park, with long time sponsor ‘The Coffee Club’ withdrawing their front of shirt sponsorship, gambling giant Ladbrokes would pick up the spot for the upcoming Liverpool game, with Steadfast taking the spot long term.

There was a bit of good news however, with John Aloisi announcing his first signing for the Roar; striker Jamie Maclaren joining the club on a two year contract from Perth Glory.

With all of that swirling in the background, it was then time for the first game of the John Aloisi era, with a high profile pre-season clash against Liverpool which drew 52,000 people to Suncorp Stadium.

Despite being heavy underdogs Brisbane took the lead through Dimitri Petratos before Adam Lallana equalised for the EPL side. A young Brisbane side fraught admirably in the second half, however it was to be the away side on the night who prevailed thanks to a late deflected goal from James Millner. Liverpool won the game, however for Aloisi and Brisbane there were a lot of positives to take out of the game ahead of next months FFA Cup clash against Western Sydney.

If anyone thought that would be the turning point for the off-season dramas, they were quickly proven wrong with the worst of the saga still to come as the QRU launched legal action over unpaid rent costs for Ballymore, threatening to have the parent company of the Roar wound up.

Further creditors made their displeasure known and by the end of the month there was an air of anger and uncertainty around with the clubs outgoing Chairman Chris Fong declaring the group wont invest another cent in Brisbane Roar as rumours of a sale continue.

With an impending court case upcoming, it was back to on field matters with Brisbane travelling to Penrith to take on Western Sydney in the FFA Cup Round of 32. Despite another good showing, the Roar would lose 1-0 to a second half Gol Gol Mebrahtu strike, ending their campaign in the cup at the first hurdle.

Despite the previous statements from Fong, the Bakries did invest some money in the embattled club, settling the dispute with the QRU and paying backdated wages to the playing group.  There was still however an uneasy feeling around the Roar, with eyes now looking to the next pay day for players, with nobody quite sure what was to come.

In the lead-up to that date, the FFA increased public pressure on the owners with a public statement for the first time, while Luke Brattan -who was being courted by overseas clubs-, began to look for a way out of the club due to unpaid superannuation.

September saw a second court case launched against the Roar, with Gambaro’s hotel looking for unpaid debts. With the owners still having failed to pay overdue superannuation, Luke Brattan announced his intention to leave Brisbane Roar in pursuit of an opportunity overseas, with the home-grown midfielder eventually signing for EPL giant Manchester City.

With the FFA threatening to step in amidst pressure from the PFA, attention turned to what was being labelled ‘d-day’ for the owners who were required to pay all player wages and begin paying the debt back or face losing the licence.

Despite failing to meet the deadline, the money eventually arrived with players wages paid and a plan was drawn up to repay all creditors as the owners had a seeming about face and decided to keep the licence.

With that unpopular news in their minds, fans readied themselves for a fan forum in late September which quickly turned into something of a bloodbath as many fans vented their frustrations.

While most still left the evening frustrated, there was an uneasy truce draw, with the Bakries promising to repay all debts by the end of the year, while there were other commitments made such as further fan forums to keep people in the loop. In credit to Roar staff, all those promises which were made have been kept, while the debts are reportedly being repaid.

With the season drawing ever closer, John Aloisi sought to add strength to his side following the recent departure of Brattan, by brining in Spanish midfield duo Miguel Corona and Javier Hervas.

The new season began away to Western Sydney, and it was Brisbane who netted both the first goal and the first win of the 2015-16 season as they defeated the Wanderers 3-1 thanks to a brace from new signing Jamie Maclaren.

The bright start to the new season continued in round two with a 2-0 win in the home opener against Central Coast, a game which saw Brisbane fans allowed onto the playing surface at Suncorp for the first time post game for a family photo.

Further home wins against Adelaide and Perth cemented Brisbane’s place towards the top of the table, before a run of away games due to a series of concerts at Suncorp and maintenance of the playing surface.

In what was one of the games of the season in round 9, Brisbane headed to Parramatta for a top of the table clash against the Wanderers, and despite playing some good football on the night they went down 2-1 thanks to a late wonder strike from Mitch Nichols.

Brisbane bounced back from that with a trip to Cairns, where they played a competitive game for the first time in round 10 against the Wellington Phoenix. The Roar embraced the north of the state and 5,000 fans were on hand to see the home side come from a goal behind to clinch a vital three points. Brisbane returned to the state capital with three points, some new fans and a positive experience from their week in the tropics.

After a win in Gosford, Brisbane rounded out 2015 with a 2nd v 3rd clash against Melbourne City which was billed as the match of the round and it was the Roar who ran out comprehensive winners thanks to an own goal from Patrick Kisnorbo and strikes from Brandon Borrello and Henrique which sees Brisbane end the year sitting in second place on the table.

Youth
On the youth front 2015 has been a relatively good one for Brisbane, with the side finishing second in the National Youth League, losing out to Melbourne City on goals scored. This years truncated NYL season looks to be another promising one, with Brisbane within striking distance of the top of Conference A as the season reaches its climax. In the NPL, a young Brisbane side battled well to finish in 6th.

The main aim of the youth competitions however is development and 2015 was certainly a success in that regard for Brisbane, with 5 youngsters making their debuts for the Roar, while a couple others cemented themselves as players for the future.

Seeing what was essentially the Brisbane youth team hold the double winning Melbourne Victory to a stand still in Round 26 of the A-League before defeating the Jets in Round 27 was the standout moment in 2015 from a youth perspective, it’s a shame however that the majority of those players wont go on to become long term Brisbane Roar players.

There was mass changes made in the youth setup as the year wound down, with an aim of getting in younger players who have the potential to step up over the next 12-18 months to A-League football. The players from the last cycle were one of the best crops of youth players Brisbane has had, however if the recent 10-0 win over Adelaide is any indication they could well have been replaced by players who can make the next step.

Women’s
2015 has hardly been a vintage year for the W-League side as they sought to return to the finals following last years failure, however with just three games to play that looks to be a long shot.

The squad has undergone several changes with many high profile players moving on, however despite some initial success the season has stagnated leaving the Roar sitting in 8th spot, albeit just three points from the top 4.

While the team hasn’t enjoyed much success in 2015, individually the players have had a fantastic year with seven players taking part in the women’s World Cup. Clare Polkinghorne, Larissa Crummer, Laura Alleway, Elise Kellond-Knight, Tameka Butt, Hayley Raso and Katrina Gorry were all apart of the Matildas side which reached the 1/4 finals in Canada.

2015 has been a bumpy one for Brisbane Roar, however the recent months have shown that the club has began to move away from those dark times and towards a hopefully bright future.

As we embark on 2016, Brisbane sit second in the A-League with finals and an ACL spot well and truly on the horizon, while the NYL side is shaping up for another assault on that competition. Given the lows around the middle of the year, for Brisbane to be entering 2016 in such healthy shape is a fantastic outcome and credit should go to the playing group, the coaching staff and the front office, who worked extremely hard through some very tough times.

Bring on  a hopefully stable and successful 2016.


Round 12 Preview- Brisbane Roar vs. Melbourne City

**The following is a re-post of something I posted over at Football Central- originally dated 26/12/15

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With Christmas now officially behind us and after four straight games on the road Brisbane return to Suncorp on Sunday for the game of the round against Melbourne City.

The last time these two sides played a month ago John Aloisi accused the Victorian side of playing anti-football. Since then City have gone on a four game winning run scoring 17 goals, while the Roar have picked up 7 points out of 12 away from Suncorp which has seen them remain in the leagues top two.

Last week Brisbane dominated possession and territory against a defensive and overall poor Central Coast side, but were forced to wait until the final minutes to win the game thanks to Dimitri Petratos.

City meanwhile had one of the biggest wins in their clubs history, with a 2-1 win in the derby their 4th straight in a result that saw them thoroughly outplay their neighbours in the first half before hanging on to the points in the second.

Brisbane Roar squad
3) Shane Stefanutto, 5) Corey Brown, 7) Corona, 9) Jamie Maclaren, 10) Henrique, 11) Jean Carlos Solórzano, 13) Jade North, 14) Daniel Bowles, 15) James Donachie, 16) Devante Clut, 17) Matt McKay, 18) Javier Hervas, 19) Jack Hingert, 21) Jamie Young, 22) Thomas Broich, 23) Dimitri Petratos, 36) Andre Jannese.
*Two to be omitted

Melbourne City squad
1) Thomas Sorensen, 3) Aaron Hughes, 5) Ivan Franjic, 6) Erik Paartalu, 8) Aaron Mooy, 9) Harry Novillo, 10) Robert Koren, 15) David Williams, 18) Paulo Retre, 19) Ben Garuccio, 20) Tando Velaphi, 21) Stefan Mauk, 22) Jack Clisby, 23) Bruno Fornaroli, 24) Patrick Kisnorbo, 25) Jacob Melling, 34) Stefan Zinni, 36) Matt Millar.
*Two to be omitted

Brisbane will be forced to make at least one change to their squad, with Steven Lustica succumbing to an abdominal injury last week, which should pave the way for goal scorer Dimitri Petratos to return to the side.

There’s unlikely to be any further changes, with Brandon Borrello the favoured option for the spare bench spot, ahead of the perennially unlucky Devante Clut. The likes of  Michael Theo and Luke DeVere are likely to be forced to play another NYL game before being considered for selection.

Expected Brisbane XI
Young, Hingert, Bowles, North, Stefanutto, Corona, Petratos, McKay, Broich, Henrique, Maclaren.
Substitutes: Jannese, Donachie, Hervas, Borrello, Solórzano.
Omitted: Brown, Clut.

City are expected to name an unchanged starting XI from the Victory clash, with the only change coming on the bench where Hernan Espindola was omitted from the squad. Jacob Melling, Stefan Zinni and Matt Millar are in the frame to earn a recall, with Melling the likely favourite.

Expected Melbourne City XI
Sorensen, Franjic, Kisnorbo, Clisby, Garuccio, Retre, Mooy, Paartalu, Mauk, Novillo, Fornaroli.
Substitutes: Velaphi, Hughes, Melling, Koren, Williams.
Omitted: Millar, Zinni.

Recent form
Brisbane: WWLDD
Melbourne: WWWWD

Top Scorer
Brisbane: Jamie Maclaren (6)
Melbourne: Bruno Fornaroli (9)

2015-16 against Melbourne City
Round 7: Brisbane Roar 1-1 Melbourne City

All-Time Record against Melbourne City

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