2015-16 Season Review Part 2- The regulars

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a look back at the season that was, the success stories, the disappointments and take a brief look to what may lie ahead for next season. Last week we looked at the season as a whole, today we’ll look at six players who were ever presents over the course of the season.

Corona
Games- 29
Goals- 2

To start this review, we’ll first look at the player who John Aloisi said would bring the quality to the Brisbane midfield in the post Luke Brattan era. To fill that hole John Aloisi went to Spain and brought back Corona, a vastly experienced midfielder who joined the Roar on a two year contract.

Despite arriving just a couple of weeks before the start of the season and not getting a lot of match practice ahead of the new season, Corona started the season as strongly as anyone and continued that right throughout.

Statistically the Spaniard had a very strong first year in Australia, playing in every League and Finals game and racking up the second most minutes on the field (2,555) in the Brisbane squad. One of the great strengths in his game is his superb passing game, and Corona lead the league in both passes attempted (1,848) with an accuracy of over 80% and that creates the platform for the attacking third.

Going forward, while he struggled to find the back of the net himself, Corona was one of the leaders in terms of chances created, with his 63 chances created making him the leader in that category for Brisbane, and only second in the competition to Aaron Mooy. The area where Corona really excelled in the front third however was with his set pieces, with the majority of his five assists come from free kicks or corners, including most notably for Thomas Broich in the Semi Final against the Victory.

Next season will likely be more of the same for Corona, who will start the season in the midfield role starting the play from deeper positions. Perhaps with an eye to the future, a part of his role next season will be to mentor January recruit Joe Caletti who despite being just 16 is one that is on the radar to potentially move into the first team squad next season.

Thomas Broich
Games- 29 (1)
Goals- 2

This was an interesting season for Brisbane’s marquee man, who seemed to struggle at times for form out wide on the left, but still chipped in with two goals and six assists over the course of the season despite claims that his influence was beginning to wane.

A form slump around the start of the year however coincided with the teams drop in form and the culmination of this was when he was dropped for the first time in his Brisbane career for the round 21 trip to Adelaide, a game in which Brisbane performed poorly resulting in a 3-0 loss and Broich was restored to the starting line-up the next week against Western Sydney.

This season has seen calls that Broich dropped slightly from his previously high level this season, and when you compare with two similar players who play in the same position – Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Diego Castro- the argument begins to make sense.

Over the 2015-16 season Broich created 55 chances (6th in the league), 6 assists (5th in the league), 21 shots on target, 75% pass completion and 62 fouls won, numbers which place him amongst the league’s elite.

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Those numbers compare reasonably favourably and while it’s probably the case that Broich had a better season overall than the Victory winger, he was certainly overshadowed by the Perth marquee who went on to win the award for player of the season.

Despite that however, Thomas Broich is still a magnificent player, and his impact on the side still allowed the likes of Petratos and Corona space to grow into the creative roles in the midfield, and next season should be more of the same. 2016-17.

The one thing that cannot be questioned about Thomas Broich is that he’s a big game player and he proved that once again this season, firstly with the winner against Newcastle in Round 26 to keep the clubs Premiers Plate hopes alive, before the dramatic stoppage time winner against Melbourne in the finals. That goal takes Broich’s finals record to four goals and seven assists from 13 games, and makes him the most influential player in the A-League Finals over the league’s first 11 seasons.

Next season could be an interesting one for Broich, who enters his seventh season with Brisbane and will be out of contract at seasons end. The recent signing of Tommy Oar will provide tremendous competition for that left wing role and it’s possible his role could change next season in order to get the younger player into his natural position. Regardless of where he plays however, Broich will play a massive part in Brisbane’s attacking plans for the 2016-17 season.

Matt McKay
Games- 27
Goals- 2

In a season which has seen him become the first player to play 200 games for the club -205 in all competitions- Matt McKay did what he always does, he was a consistent team player whose work rate eclipsed most others.

Statistically it was another typical Matt McKay season, with the midfielder once again showing the proficiency of his passing game, with his 1568 passes for the season placing him sixth in the league, and only behind Corona and North for Brisbane players. McKay’s 81.3% passing accuracy also places him 6th across the players ranked inside the top ten of overall completed passes.

It’s not just the number of passes or the accuracy of them which need to be taken into account however, it’s the chances that come from them, and on this score McKay also fares rather well. If we remove Aaron Mooy, who is an outlier with 104 chances created, Matt compares rather well with other creative attacking midfielders across the league. The 37 chances that McKay created over the season sees him fall just outside the top 10 in the league–Romeo Castelen is 10th with 45 chances created-, however it sees Matt in third amongst Brisbane players with just Corona (63) and Thomas Broich (55) with more.

The defining moments of the season for McKay came against the same opposition and just six days apart with a couple of chances which drastically changed the fortunes of the season as a whole. After missing a golden chance to secure an early lead in the must win round 27 clash with the Victory, McKay then levelled the scores for Brisbane in the Elimination final barely a minute after Berisha had given the visitors the lead. While it’s far to simplistic to blame the events of Round 27 at the feet of McKay, it was a fantastic moment of retribution for a player whose offered so much, both this season and in years gone by.

A big part of the season for Matt in recent times has been his national team commitments, and again this season he missed three games for Brisbane due to his participation in Australia’s 2018 World Cup Qualification campaign. That campaign has been progressing well, however McKay’s involvement and influence in the squad is beginning to wane, with the likes of Mooy, Rogic and Luongo now seen as ahead of him in the pecking order.

That obliviously would be a disappointment for McKay should this recent trend continue – he was a late addition to the recent WCQ’s vs. Tajikistan and Jordan, before being included in the England game but not the Greece Friendlies- it would be a massive boost to Brisbane to have their captain available for games played on international weekends.

While his national team future is perhaps in some doubt, McKay’s future with Brisbane is in no doubt, with another season as club captain and a key role in the clubs midfield. 2016-17 is a contract year for McKay, whose two year contract which was announced in December 2014, and while it’s a near certainty he will be retained beyond this upcoming year, it could be the final season for which Matt occupies one of the clubs two marquee spots.

Jade North
Games- 30
Goals- 3

As the only player to play every minute of every game this season for Brisbane, the consistency and reliability of Jade this season has been a valuable part of the Roars’ success this season. That consistency has been invaluable for John Aloisi in his first season of management given the lack of experience surrounding North in the backline.

A big part of Brisbane’s play for a number of years now is playing out from the back, and Jade was a big part of that this season 1466 completed passes (88% completion) helping to launch attacks for the Roar. Going forward Jade also chipped in with some crucial goals, including the equaliser in Round 19 against Newcastle.

His primary job however is to defend, here’s his defensive stats for the 2015-16 season:
Tackles- 25 of 31 (80%)
Duels- 96 of 184 (52%)
Aerial Duels- 45 of 86 (52%)
Clearances- 62
Blocks-
26
Interceptions- 90

When comparing those stats to some of the league’s defenders- for this I looked at Dylan McGowan, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Patrick Kisnorbo who all were at the heart of defence in teams who made the top four- North is slightly lower in comparison but is still a similar range, and it can be explained by Brisbane’s more expansive style of play making the defence more open.

After contractual negotiations wrapped up recently resulting in a fresh one year deal keeping Jade in Brisbane, next season looms as more of the same as he continues his role as the leader of the back four. With Daniel Bowles, Kye Rowles and the injury prone Luke DeVere as the options to play alongside him, it will be more important than ever for North to provide consistency and leadership at the heart of Brisbane’s defence.

Shane Stefanutto
Games- 16 (1)
Goals- 0

The season started somewhat strongly for Stef, who played in twelve of the first 15 matches of the season, before a fifth yellow of the campaign saw him miss the round 16 home clash with Adelaide. Niggling injury then kept Shane on the sidelines for a further three rounds, before a return to the side in round 20.

While the plan was no doubt to go out on a high note, and possibly with silverware, things didn’t pan out that way for Stefanutto, with his final appearance of the season coming in the 3-2 win over Western Sydney in round 22. Following that game, in which Stefanutto made a costly slip to allow Castelen in to score the goal which sent the visitors 2-1 in front, Aloisi opted to bring Corey Brown back into the side and his consistent run of form meant that Stefanutto ended his playing career outside the matchday squad.

Things didn’t pan out as hoped, but it’s easy to forget the amount of football Stef played this season, with 17 appearances for the season in all competitions. Statistically it wasn’t the greatest year of his career, however when fit he was still a weapon going forward with 33 crosses and 10 chances created over the course of the season. Defensively, his declining pace was beginning to tell with pacy opponents getting the better of him, however he still won just under 50% of his defensive duels -39 from 79- and 62% of duels in the air – 18 from 29-.

It was all but confirmed by John Aloisi in the days prior to the season, but this was Shane’s final season with the Roar, with the now 36 year old announcing his retirement from professional football in the days following the season. Stefanutto departs the Roar after 138 appearances for the club –sixth most all time- and is just one of 10 players to play 100 games for the club. There is talk that a role in either the clubs football department or front office awaits, which would be a solid appointment and help keep some experience within the club.

Jamie Young
Games- 21
Clean Sheets- 7

Rounding out this part of the review is the goalkeeper who was expected to be the understudy but inside of two seasons has gone on to become the first choice keeper. Despite making 30 appearances in the 2014-15 season and steadily improving his game, Young found himself back on the bench to start the new season with the fit again Michael Theo reclaiming the no.1 shirt. That however would only last for the opening two weeks before yet another injury opened the path again for Young to get a game, and the shot-stopper went on play in the next 13 games.

In that stretch of games Young had some strong performances and was perhaps unlucky to be dropped for the fit again Theo after Brisbane’s 4-0 loss away to the Victory in round 15, with Young keeping five clean sheets in that run, including three successive games. His time out of the side however would prove to be a brief one, with Young reinstated to the starting line-up for the round 23 clash with Victory, and he went on to play the last five league games and both finals.

Those five games were exciting but despite the high scoring nature of the majority of those games, Young kept a further two clean sheets along the way; both of which somewhat ironically came against the Victory.

Statistically this season has been a solid one for Jamie, with his seven clean sheets on the season putting him equal third across the league, tied with Andrew Redmayne and behind Eugene Galekovic (13) & Vedran Janjetovic (8).

Distribution has been a criticism constantly labelled at Young since his arrival in Brisbane, and while it’s still has room for improvement it’s certainly getting there with a 65% pass completion from over 500 attempts this season. That puts him on par with Michael Theo for the season, while the player voted keeper of the year –Adelaide’s Eugene Galekovic- had a passing accuracy of just over 70%.

While distribution has long been the problem, shot stopping has been the big strength that was on show once again this season, with a save to shot ratio of 72% which places him second on this measure, with Galekovic leading the field on 80%.

Due to his strong finish to the season it’s likely that Young will enter the new season as the clubs first choice goalkeeper which signifies progression, however the experience of Theo can never be counted out provided he’s fully healthy and ready to go. Given his newly signed two year contract extension back in February, it’s likely he’ll be given a shot at making the #1 position his own.

The six players mentioned have been some of the key players of Brisbane’s 2015-16 season, and aside from Stefanutto they’ve regularly been amongst the teams top performers. Tomorrow we’ll look at Brisbane’s young players who’ve developed into first team contributors and regulars.

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