Season Review- Part 5 (Coaching)

**Apologies for the delay on this final part of the season review, had a few personal matters to attend to.

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 playing group as a whole, so today we take a look at the coaching staff.

Since arriving in Brisbane in May of 2015, John Aloisi has had a lot to deal with in his new job, with the clubs off-field financial dramas robbing him of one of the teams’ best players and threatening to destabilise the entire club. Despite all of that however, the team flourished under Aloisi’ leadership, with the Roar falling just short of silverware in his first year at the helm. Today we assess his performance in 2015-16, breaking it down into four categories; results, recruitment, player development and style of play, before taking a brief look ahead to 2016-17.

Results
The main thing that coaches get judged on is ultimately the results, and in his first season it’s hard to argue against the results John attained in his first season. Losing just one of fourteen home games in the regular season saw Aloisi’ side equal the Roar record for home points in the regular season –with the 2010-11 double winning side-. Away from home however it was rather different, with just thirteen points from as many games in the regular season –three wins-, which is the second lowest tally of points on the road since the league expanded from 8 teams to 10 in 2009-10.

Coupling those two sets of numbers together however, Brisbane were in the frame for silverware entering the final round of the season before a 0-0 draw saw them finish in third position. All up, 14 wins from 27 A-League games, plus an Elimination Finals win over Melbourne capped off a solid first season in charge for Aloisi.

From a statistical standpoint, through 30 games Aloisi stacks up well in comparison with his predecessors, with John having the best record of any through 30 games. Given the circumstances surrounding the Roar when he took over back in May 2015, to get the side to the finals, one win from the Grand Final is a phenomenal first season in charge.

Recruitment
In: Corona, Hervas, Maclaren, Oar, Caletti, Jannese
Out:  Kaluderovic, Jackson, Brattan, Yango. Donachie, Solórzano, Clut, Lustica, Henrique.

There were a lot of questions in this area surrounding John given his missteps at the Heart, and he was restricted somewhat in the transfer market given his arrival midway through the off-season and with many players already off the board.

Despite that however, Aloisi was able to attract one of the biggest prizes on the open market with Jamie Maclaren signing a two year deal. Coupled with late in the off season recruits Corona and Javier Hervas, in addition to January addition Tommy Oar, Aloisi certainly was able to add quality to his squad.

Going the other way the biggest loss was from circumstances beyond his control with Luke Brattan departing the Roar just weeks before the start of the season due to the clubs financial crisis. The other big departure that Aloisi had to deal with was that of Andrija Kaluderovic, who scored 7 in 16 games since arriving midway through the year.

Player development
When it comes to player development, two names stand out for Brisbane in 2015-16, Jack Hingert and Jamie Maclaren.

Hingert, who played in 29 of the Roar’s 30 games last season, established himself as the first choice right back last term with a string of solid performances. Corey Brown and Daniel Bowles are others who improved massively this season under Aloisi’ stewardship.

Maclaren, who arrived in the off-season after a stellar end to the season in Perth, flourished here in Brisbane with twenty goals this season and culminating with a Socceroos call-up for the recent friendly against England. Dimitri Petratos, who contributed seven goals and seven assists added some consistency to his game after an up and down season the year prior.

On the other side of things, one player who failed to develop and ended up being released was midfielder Devante Clut. Clut was one of the few shining lights of Brisbane’s unsuccessful title defence in 2014-15 and was expected to have a bright future in Brisbane under John Aloisi, however the young midfielder quickly found himself on the outer under the new regime.

Nine substitute appearances, none of which were overly long in length was all the first team football afforded to Devante, who spent the majority of the season in the youth league. Another player who found himself in a similar situation was Shannon Brady, with the young winger in the first year of a four year contract struggling to make the breakthrough last season.

On the whole however, it’s hard not to give a big tick to Aloisi in this regard. The improvement of Maclaren and Hingert in particular played a big part in the success of last season, while the likes of Petratos, Brown and Bowles have gone from fringe squad players to first XI calibre players under Aloisi.

Style of Play
Finally to the teams style of play, and in truth there wasn’t a lot of change in Aloisi’ first season in charge, with the traditional possession style of play still at the heart of the Roars performances.

One subtle change that he did introduce was the introduction of some more direct/counter attacking balls over the top of defences, which opened up changes on the counter for Brisbane’s pacy attacking duo in Brandon Borrello and Jamie Maclaren. This change netted a significant dividend for Aloisi and the Roar, with a number of the teams goals coming from this.

While things remained similar with the ball, there was no doubt change off the ball, with the combative but technically gifted Brattan replaced by Spaniard Corona, who albeit better on the ball than Brattan, lacked the defensive bite of his predecessor. The 49 goals conceded in the regular season was the most Brisbane had conceded, since the last time they missed the finals back in 2009-10, and looms as the one area that Aloisi will need to get right next season if silverware is to return to Brisbane.

2016-17
The challenges don’t get any easier for Aloisi, with the clubs off-field dramas resurfacing once again in the closed season which will impact both recruitment and preparations for the new season. So far just youngsters Connor O’Toole and Kye Rowles have been added to the squad, while a number of useful squad players have departed for fresh challenges.

Next season also comprises bigger challenges for Aloisi, who will now be expected to repeat last seasons strong form –particularly at home- and challenge for silverware once again. The real challenge however perhaps lies on the continent, with the Roar set to play a qualifier in February to see if they will participate in the Group Stage for a third time.

Conclusion
On the whole, it’s hard to fault Aloisi for his first season in charge of the Roar. He kept the team in the hunt for silverware right up until the end, qualified for Asia and saw many of the teams potential young stars emerge as genuine first team contributors. If you wanted to be critical, the teams defensive woes –particularly on the road- is an area which can be improved, but despite that they remained in the hunt until the end.. At the end of the day, to be in the position the Roar found themselves entering April was an achieving in itself given the tumultuous pre-season, although it would have been nice to cap it off with some silverware. Next season perhaps.

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