Season Review Part 3- Youngsters

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. Previously we’ve looked at the season as a whole and the players who were regulars, today we’ll look at a bunch of younger players who rose to prominence in 2015-16.

Brandon Borrello
Games- 22 (1)
Goals- 5

Starting with a young player who first got his chance in the 2014-15, Brandon Borrello took major steps forward this season as a regular member of the starting line-up.

Despite making the breakthrough with 27 appearances last season and making his mark in the Asian Champions League, it was this season where Borrello cemented himself as a starting member in the side and began to add consistency in his game.

Five goals from 23 appearances is a solid return for player who was a secondary attacking weapon a lot of the season, but it’s also something that he can improve upon with four of his five goals in the opening month of the season and no goals since the round 12 clash with Melbourne City.

That regular starting spot on the right hand spot was his for all bar a month long spell just before Christmas where he was left out for three rounds, and the month of January when his form earned him a call-up to Australia’s AFC u-23 Championships squad.

Brandon’s form over the past 18 months or so has attracted interest of other teams both domestically and in Europe, however he put and end to all of the speculation by agreeing to a two year contract extension in mid February to remain in Brisbane.

The question surrounding Borrello for next season however is what role he will play, with the late season arrival of Tommy Oar raising questions over the wide attacking positions, with Thomas Broich also firmly in the mix to start in one of those roles. We saw that while initially it was Oar to miss out, that changed as the team moved towards the finals before Borrello was re-instated for the Semi-Final loss to Western Sydney. How that situation pans out will be one of the storylines of 2016-17.

Daniel Bowles
Games– 21 (1)
Goals-1

After making a string of solid appearances late in the 2014-15 season due to a heavily congested fixture schedule, where he excelled at the heart of defence, it was expected to be another season where Daniel would be waiting for his chance.

A long term injury to Luke DeVere which ruled him out of the entire season, coupled with Olyroos and injury issues for James Donachie opened up the path for Bowles to start the season in the line-up and he took his chance by playing in the first 16 games of the season.

Statistically Bowles is the second best rated defender in almost all categories, second only to the experienced Jade North who played every minute of the season having his best season in his time with the Roar.

Statistically in comparison with his regular partner Jade North and four players of similar age and playing time in 2015-16 –Matt Jurman (Sydney), Alex Grant (Perth), Jacob Poscoliero (Central Coast) & Jordan Elsey (Adelaide) – Bowles stacks up rather well as the table below shows.

bowles
Looking ahead to next season Bowles looms as an important part of John Aloisi’ plans following the departure of James Donachie and the injury struggles of Luke DeVere, which leaves Bowles as the logical partner for Jade North.

Corey Brown
Games- 13 (2)
Goals- 1

2015-16 was another season where Corey started out as the understudy, but after injures to veteran Shane Stefanutto the opportunity for playing time emerged once again.

Initially when the chance arrived in the opening rounds he was solid in patches but was caught out by the run from Fabio Ferreira against the Central Coast which resulted in a goal. Following that and as a result of the return to fitness of Stefanutto, Brown was on the outer again with his next start not until the round 16 clash with Adelaide.

From round 16, Brown started the next four games playing reasonably well for the most part, but a pair of mistakes against Newcastle including a rather poor handball to concede a penalty, he found himself once again on the outer.

It looked like that was the way things would remain for the rest of the season, but Brown was given a somewhat surprising recall for the round 23 showdown with Melbourne Victory, and in credit to Corey he played arguably his best game for the Roar when he kept the inform Jai Ingham quiet and netted his second goal for the Roar in a 5-0 romp.

That performance ensured his spot in the side for the finals run in and the A-League finals themselves, with a string of solid performances over the final weeks of the season giving encouragement that Corey is ready to step up to the mark as a regular starter.

The attacking side of Corey’s game has always been the strength and the 8 chances created -1 assist- puts him on a par with what Jack Hingert achieved over on the right hand side, and in far less playing time.

The problem for Brown has always been that defensive positioning and decision making, and despite struggling at times in the early weeks of the season he improved considerably as the season went on. 36 interceptions and a tackle success rate of 85% are just marginally below that of Stefanutto for last season.

2016-17 will be a massive year for Corey due to the fact that he will be entering the pre-season as the clubs first choice left full-back, with only youngster Conor O’Toole in his first year as a professional as competition for his place.

The blueprint for Corey should be to look at the way Jack Hingert established himself as a starter in this league, and to attempt to replicate that on the left hand side. If Brown is able to achieve that level of consistency the future of the backline could be in very good shape.

James Donachie
Games- 10 (1)
Goals- 0

This year was an interrupted one for Donachie, who started just the 10 games this campaign, with injury and National Team call-ups playing their part. Injures to both his quad and knee cost him four games each, while he missed the entire month of January due to the Olympic Qualification tournament.

After his return however in round 15, Donachie would start in 9 of the last 13 games of the season, missing only four games due to his aforementioned knee injury.

Performance wise it’s tough to gauge given the small sample size of just nine league starts, but he  had 21 interceptions, 33 clearances, won 58% of his tackles and 56% of his duels, numbers which stack up reasonably similarly to Daniel Bowles , who he was fighting with for playing time.

After it emerged midway through the season that his contract was due to expire 12 months earlier than expected due to a mistake in the paperwork, the attempts to rectify the situation immediately and to extend the deal for an extra year to line it up with the original intended length of the deal.

That however failed to materialise and this week we got conformation that after five seasons and 71 appearances, James was set to depart the Roar. Teams domestically and abroad have already been linked, so it could be a few weeks before we learn of his next destination. Wherever that is, as a home-grown player through the clubs youth set-up I wish him all the best.

Jack Hingert
Games- 29
Goals- 0

2015-16 loomed as a career defining year for Jack and he made the most of his chance this season, playing in 29 of the clubs 30 games leaving the more experienced Jerome Polenz on the outer and missing only the one game due to a red card in round 24.

That run of form and regular football saw Hingert sign a new two year contract extension back in February which will see Jack remain in Brisbane through the 2017-18 season. The key now for Hingert is to kick on and establish himself amongst the league’s best full-backs, so with that in mind here’s how he compares statistically with three players who’ve been in and around the national time in recent years- Jason Geria (Melb. Victory), Tarek Elrich (Adelaide) & Scott Jamieson (West Sydney)-.

hingert

Defensively the numbers stack up well for Jack, with all categories showing he’s very similar with the tackle and aerial duel winning % both right there with the others.

Attack wise the 1543 passes place Hingert 8th in the entire league, while his completion rating is also towards the top. The one area that he could perhaps improve on is the amount of chances created once in the final third, with his tally of 14 chances created and one assist well down on both Jamieson and Elrich.

With the right back spot now seemingly his for the foreseeable future, and his future in Brisbane secure for the next two seasons, the key for Hingert now will be to kick on and become one of the leagues best full-backs.

Jamie Maclaren
Games- 26
Goals- 20

Where would Brisbane have been without Jamie Maclaren? Well, for starters we wouldn’t of been 90 minutes from the Premiership and the Grand Final. When Jamie made to Brisbane in search of more regular playing time, it seemed a mutually beneficial fit, with Maclaren desperate for playing time and Brisbane desperate for a striker to replace Besart Berisha. In the end both got exactly what they were hoping for.

The season started and ended in the exact same way for Maclaren, with goals in the road against Western Sydney, and in between those games in October and April, he emerged as the best Australian striker in the A-League with his 20 goals the most ever scored by a local player in the A-League.

His influence on the side is best outlined by the games he missed in the month of January due to the AFC u-23 Championships. From the time when he was substituted in the 70th  minute of the round 13 clash with Perth, the Roar would only score the one solitary goal in his absence over the next 290 minutes of football; and that was a penalty against Adelaide. Brisbane lost two of the three games without Maclaren, picking up just one point out of nine as they dropped down to third on the table in his absence, and on his first game back following Olyroos duty he re-outlined his importance with a brace in a 3-1 win away to Sydney FC.

Maclaren’s form this season has lead to comparisons with the league’s best strikers, and when you compare him to fellow sharpshooters Besart Berisha and Bruno Fornaroli you can see why with the young striker splitting the difference between the two in every statistical category.

jmac

His stellar run of form eventually proved too compelling for Socceroos boos Ange Postecoglou to ignore, and after overlooking Maclaren for the World Cup Qualifiers against Tajikistan and Jordan, he was called up for the end of season friendlies against England and Greece. While his international debut didn’t go to plan –or as well as it did for the striker making his debut at the other end of the pitch- he showed enough to suggest that with a little more experience there’s some potential to work with.

On the back of his stellar season, there has reportedly been interest from clubs in Europe for Maclaren’s services and his recent international debut is unlikely to dampen that interest. Jamie does however have one season to run on the two year deal he signed back in June last year, so the focus will be on improving upon his performances this season to secure his spot in the national team and to attract further interest. Obviously it would be fantastic if Brisbane were able to secure Maclaren’s services beyond this upcoming season, but that sort of talk will be firmly on the back burner until clubs ownership situation is resolved.

Dimitri Petratos
Games- 26 (4)
Goals-7

After switching from his right winger role under Mike Mulvey to a deeper midfield role in the 2014-15 season, Dimitri made that right hand side of the midfield three role his own this season starting in 26 of the clubs 30 games this season..

Despite a tendency to take a lot of shots -45 for the season-, a return of seven goals for the season is a career high, with only team Golden Boot Jamie Maclaren and Henrique bringing in a higher return. A shots on target ratio of just 15.6% however indicates there’s still room for improvement.

The one area of his game that has improved is the creative side, with a team high seven assists for Brisbane this season. That’s one more than Thomas Broich, whose lead the category for Brisbane ever since his arrival in 2010, and puts Petratos 4th in the league for assists this season behind Kosta Barbarouses, Mark Bridge and runaway winner Aaron Mooy.

That creative influence, which grew as the season went on, will become even more important next season as the team continues to evolve in the front third. With next year a contract year for Petratos –amongst many others- it looms as a big one for the 23 year old. Another solid campaign in 2016-17 could net him a lucrative deal here in the A-League or possibly overseas.

Brisbane’s younger players were always going to play a pivotal role in the success or otherwise of the 2015-16 season, and a large number of them stepped up to the mark. The 20 league goals for Jamie Maclaren was a record for an Australian and put him well and truly on the map in the A-League, while the defensive performances from the likes of Hingert, Bowles and Donachie were important at the other end of the park.

Next time we’ll look at the players who struggled to make an impact in the 2015-16 season.

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