The Roar Review: Season Preview – Part 7: Fan ForumPosted: January 24, 2016
The Roar Review’s 5th annual season preview series and first as part of Football Central will be a seven part series. It will take an in-depth look at Brisbane Roar ahead of the 2015-16 A-League season. Today, in part seven, the focus is on the football department fan forum held last night.
Brisbane Roar held a second fan forum in as many weeks, with last night’s occasion a far more subdued affair in comparison to last week where there was a lot of anger on display.
Questions this week were to do with the football department, with Football Operations Manager Craig Moore, A-League head coach John Aloisi, W-League head coach Belinda Wilson and experienced A-League defender Shane Stefanutto in attendance. All four offering good insights into where they see their respective teams with both just days out from the new season.
Unlike last week where there was little in the way of actual news from the event, in this case it emerged that Brisbane would be making an additional signing before the start of the season, and while the panel was reluctant to give a name it was revealed overnight to be Spanish midfielder Javier Hervas.
That was made possible by the other big news of the night, which is that Henrique is finally getting his Australian citizenship at a ceremony tonight. The news means that Brisbane had the extra visa spot available and they were quick to pounce and snap up Hervas. Aloisi also indicated he’d kept a spot open for the January transfer window in case the team needs reinforcements during that period.
The first question of the night was directed at John Aloisi, with the recent return of former players like Moore, Josh McCloughan, Karl Dodd and Scott Higgins – are they the best people or is it because they’re former players.
In his answer, Aloisi referenced one of his former clubs, Ossasuna, where there are a lot of former players working in the club’s football department and front office, and it’s part of a philosophy he wants to bring to the club. The new boss did however stress that competency in their respective roles is important and if they weren’t they wouldn’t be here.
He was also very quick to state that one of the big things he learnt at Melbourne Heart was that he has to be in control of everything to do with the football department, and that these decisions were his and not any else’s.
A question was also put to the panel later in the night in relation to the chain of command in the football department and who makes the decisions.
In his answer Moore gave the example of how the Corona signing occurred, which started with a discussion between Moore and Aloisi, discussions which ended with Aloisi making his decision. From there it was checked with the budget to make sure it was feasible, then it was passed on to interim CEO David Pourre and the owners representatives, who all had to sign off on it before it could go through. Aloisi again stressed the importance of having the final say on all things in the football department, including player transfers.
Attention then turned to the football department as a whole, with Aloisi admitting that while he hasn’t got the resources of some clubs, it’s a case having to make the most of what you have available.
The manager then went into a story, saying that on his first day in the job, he was thrown out of Ballymore over unpaid rent payments. His response was to get CEO David Pourre to drive him around Brisbane inspecting as many fields as possible, which is how they came up with the current training base at Griffith University.
Aloisi admitted however that was only a temporary solution, indicating his hope that the club could find a long term home for all three of the clubs teams, but indicated that currently rests with the clubs ownership to find a suitable arrangement.
Talks then turned to the team’s philosophy and playing style, with Aloisi admitting he would be stupid to go against the direction which Ange Postecoglou brought to the club.
He went on to say that while the philosophy of the club would not change, some of the patterns and systems will be different as it’s important to keep up with modern football, something Aloisi pointed out Ange did with Victory and now the Socceroos.
When pressed for more detail on the front, Aloisi outlined how he goes about things, saying that while he’s implementing a possession based game, it’s pointless if there’s no end product.
With that in mind he went into great detail about how he breaks the field up into three zones, with an emphasis this pre-season of what he called ‘breaking the lines’ of the opposition.
Without wanting to give too much away, each zone had particular buzz words, with differing emphasis on possession vs. penetration for each. It was a really good explanation, I encourage you to watch the video at the bottom of this story if you’re keen on more detail (it’s about an hour in).
Shane then offered the player’s perspective, saying that he once played for a manager who’s self confidence quickly spread to the players, and Aloisi also has that trait. Without saying it, it was clear that Stefanutto was drawing a clear comparison between Aloisi and former boss Ange Postecoglou, who lead the Roar to back to back championships.
He went on to proclaim his belief that the club’s playing style was second to none and that while he’s been injured he’s seen a lot of positives from the pre-season including added competition for places in the squad. Shane also stressed the hunger in the playing group, saying that in his view anything less than winning the championship is viewed as failure.
When it came to specifics on players, Aloisi was decidedly more guarded, opting to keep his thoughts on a number of matters close to his chest, including the much debated goalkeeper position. Aloisi did admit he was the luckiest coach in the league in this respect to have two good options.
The big topic on the players front however was of course Luke Brattan, with Aloisi saying that while he hoped that Brattan would stay for another season, it’s important to have plans in place in terms of replacements within the club if players decide to move on.
As an example of how Aloisi believes the club should go about replacing players like Brattan in the future, he referenced 16 year old midfielder Adam Sawyer, who has been promoted from the clubs u/18 side to the roster for the upcoming NYL season. John also stressed it was a two year process to develop young players and that he hopes that Sawyer, or somebody else is ready to step up and fill that gap when Corona moves on.
Aloisi also took a swipe at his old club in his answer, saying that when they were faced with a similar situation they had no plan to replace key players who were sold such as Curtis Good and Eli Babalj.
In rounding out his answer, Aloisi stated he felt he was ‘extremely lucky’ to have a visa spot to bring in Corona, by saying that nobody in the country is capable of replacing the impact Brattan had on the Brisbane team.
In giving the playing groups perspective Stefanutto pointed out that fully he understands the allure of trying to make it in Europe, and added that if a player wants to leave then there isn’t really any point talking them out of it. Shane also referenced the fact that the club has routinely lost key players in his time at the Roar and they’ve bounced back. He Also said the exit route that Brattan took was available to the entire squad and he was the only one who took it.
The one current player the panel did talk about in some detail was Jamie Maclaren with Stefanutto saying that his work rate upfront without the ball would be a big boost to the team this year and should result in a return to the pressure from the front Berisha used to bring. Aloisi for his part praised the movement off the ball in attack Maclaren makes, saying that while he has two good strikers he didn’t sign the former Perth striker to be some kind of super sub.
When asked what he learned from his time at the Heart, Aloisi stated that the biggest thing he took away from his time there was that coaching isn’t just about tactics there’s a whole host of things to deal with- media, supporters, board, coaching staff etc.
As an example, John stated he didn’t fully understand the importance of the media and it’s value in terms of getting messages out to supporters, before going on to say that his ill-fated stint at the Heart, his Fox Sports adventure, his overseas trip and his brief stint in the Victory academy setup had ensured he was better prepared this time around.
In more general questions related to the A-League side, Aloisi admitted that while the off-season had been tough for obvious reasons, he’d been honest and upfront with the players on what he knew and that their morale was high going into the season.
In terms of expectations Aloisi said that like everyone else he wants to win the competition, saying that last years disappointment would spur the players on to put things right and that motivating them has been easy. While he didn’t want to talk about benchmarks and ceilings, Aloisi simply stated that it was about improving daily both individually and as a team.
Craig Moore was asked about the differences in the club from his time as a player and now, with the former captain outlining that it’s not just Brisbane that’s changed markedly, it’s the league as a whole. Moore outlined that he believed the game as a whole owes Ange Postecoglou a lot, who Craig said had shaken the league up and it’s now a good grounding for young players.
Aloisi was also asked about injuries, with the new boss not holding back on the former regime, calling it outrageous that a player like Luke DeVere, who had just returned from a bad quad injury before the Villarreal game would be risked in such a meaningless game. DeVere of course went on to tear his quad off his bone leaving him out for the majority of this season.
In terms of changes he’s made, it’s an area that he’s taken a lot of time to try and get right after the amount of injuries sustained last year. Some of the changes he’s made include giving control of the whole medical side of the team to the leader of the medical team as opposed to himself, while rehabilitation has been made mandatory in addition to more gym sessions to try and limit injuries.
Substitutes were also brought up, with Aloisi refusing to comment on the former regime’s strategy, only outlining that he understands what they are and how to use them by saying that he’s going to have one player per position on the bench plus a utility and that you need to have contingencies for tactical swaps and injuries. In addition to options if you’re winning or losing. Again, it was nothing revolutionary, but at least unlike the previous regime it seems like he understands the concept and value of them.
Engagement between the football department and the fans came up briefly, with Aloisi saying that some kind of interaction with the fans after a game is a non-negotiable for him that he expects his teams to carry out, particularly on the road.
MC for the night Brendan Boss also pointed out that when he told Aloisi they don’t get out in the community enough, the new boss vowed to change that immediately, something Boss claims has happened as evidenced by last weeks statement that the club is doing more than ever in that regard.
Moving onto the W-League side, coach Belinda Wilson fielded questions about the make-up of her side, indicating that the high profile departures were not unexpected, and that there are a host of reasons for that.
Wilson was reluctant to single out any of her new signings for special praise, indicating it would be a team effort should they be successful as opposed to any one individual, outlining that the players are launching a new Instagram account which the Wilson believes is a good way for supporters to get to know the players before the start of the season.
For those interested, here’s the link to the new women’s Instagram account – https://instagram.com/brisbaneroarwomen/
Despite their departures, Wilson says the squad is in a far better space than they were at this point last season, that the teams style of play which she believes went missing last year is on the way back.
Wilson went on to emphasise the importance of the National Premier League competition, with a number of the new recruits coming from that competition, a process which started with players being brought in for trial periods over the course of the season.
Injuries are also affecting the women’s team, with influential defender Brooke Spence set to miss the entire season after she re-broke the plate in her foot.
Currently Wilson has signed 17 players, with at least one more to be added before the start of the season, and the manager outlined that she’s still looking at a number of players. With W-League squads having a minimum of 18 and a maximum of 20 there’s still scope to add to the squad.
The venue of the women’s matches also came up, with Wilson admitting that while she would love to have more games at Suncorp Stadium, it’s simply not practical in the current situation, both from a budgetary standpoint and also a community engagement one.
On the youth side, Moore was rather blunt about the recent decision to release 12 players from the squad, outlining that if a player has been in the system for 2 years and isn’t yet close to first team football tough decisions need to be made to give younger players a go.
Aloisi was equally blunt about the standard of the NPL competition, saying that he’s seen a lot of the Roar NPL and u/18 games, and that the gap between the NPL and A-League is significant due to the continued rise in standards across the A-League. In an ominous sign for NPL players hoping to catch the Roar’s attention, Aloisi said that it would take a ‘really exceptional’ player to catch his eye from one of the other teams.
In their closing statements Wilson encouraged people to get out and watch a game either at Suncorp or at regional games to be held in Cleveland and on the Gold Coast, and to check out the new player driven Instagram account while Moore simply thanked people for attendance and said the one thing he can guarantee that in both the men’s and women’s teams everyone will give 100% effort.
Stefanutto said what he will take back to the playing group is that there are a committed bunch of supporters who care and that the fans will see that returned on match days, before saying that he doesn’t understand why it’s taken this long for these types of events to occur. A point which was strongly echoed by those in attendance.
In his final statement Aloisi echoed the sentiments of Moore and Stefanutto, before adding that the members are a big part of the club.
The next fan forum will be held November 18, with MC Brendan Boss saying that this is a part of the club meeting the minimum standards outlined and agreed upon last week.