2016-17 Season Preview- Central MidfieldersPosted: September 26, 2016
With the new season set to get underway in just 11 days time, our annual season preview series is here and over the next two weeks we’ll take an in depth look at the 2016-17 tea. Previously we’ve covered the Goalkeepers, the right backs, the left- backs and central defenders, today we’ll look at the central midfielders.
If pre-season is any indication, it’s the midfield shape which could be set for the biggest shake up heading into 2016-17, with the transition into two deeper lying midfielders behind a genuine no.10. We’ll cover the attacking midfield role tomorrow but here’s the list of options who could play in the deeper lying roles, a group of players who each bring something different to the table.
The club captain had a solid year last time around, remaining in the upper echelon of midfielders in the league with his influence going forward.
Last season McKay ranked amongst the best midfielders in terms of chances created with 37, a number which ranks him amongst the best midfielders in the competition and the signs from pre-season are that it should be more of the same this year.
While McKay remains an integral part of the Brisbane side, his place in the National Team appears to have slipped form his grasp, with Ange Postecoglou preferring different midfield options in recent months.
This pre-season has been typical Matt McKay with energetic performances in the trial games and the FFA Cup loss to Perth, and appears set for a big season in the heart of midfield.
Coming into the midfield as a replacement for the departed Spaniard Corona, Kristensen will be looking to plug a big hole in the heart of the Brisbane engine room.
Kristensen brings different qualities to those of his predecessor, with the Dane’s height bringing a dimension to Brisbane’s midfield that has been missed since Erik Paartalu’s departure in January 2013.
As a player it’s tough to gauge Kristensen as a player given the only time I’ve seen him play was in the game against the BPL Select side last month, a game where he played as a central midfielder alongside Matt McKay. On the night, Kristensen was on the right side of the midfield duo, with one midfielder pressing forward in defence while the other sat.
Since arriving in Brisbane the Roar have eased Kristensen in with the midfielder only making a handful of appearances in pre-season, and he was a late withdrawal from the weekends clash with the NPL Select side.
A recent addition in Brisbane over the off-season, Pepper arrives at his third A-League club following stints at Newcastle and Western Sydney.
Last season Pepper made 11 appearances for the Wanderers, helping them to a second placed finish and a Grand Final defeat.
While Pepper is nominally a central midfielder by trade and his primary role on the 2016-17 side is to act as back-up to Thomas Kristensen, he could also fill a duel role as a utility similarly to that of Diogo Ferreira in 2013-14.
Pepper might not be the most talented player in the squad, he will however fill an important role in the side over the course of the season in multiple positions of the team.
Arriving from Adelaide just prior to the start of the 2016 NPL Queensland campaign, Konstandopoulos earned a chance with the first team with solid performances over the first half of 2016.
After continuing to impress in the pre-season Nathan made his full debut off the bench in the August FFA Cup loss to Perth Glory, and has featured in most of Brisbane’s pre-season fixtures.
Looking ahead to the season it’s likely that Konstandopoulos will start the season as a depth option for John Aloisi, possibly starting the season on the bench but most likely just on the fringes of the matchday squad.
A young midfielder signed in January by John Aloisi from the FFA Centre of Excellence in January and has been rarely sighted in Brisbane colours since arriving, making his first appearance with the senior side in yesterdays win over the NPL select side.
This season it’s likely that Caletti will find himself more involved in the Young Roar set-up while also being involved in junior National Teams, but an A-League debut still seems to be a while off.
The Young Roar captain is another option who could add depth to the 2016-17 side following a strong season in the NPL Queensland. The midfielder fulfilled a box to box in the youth side this season, but in his sole first team appearance this pre-season he played in an attacking midfield role showing his versatility. It’s most likely that Daley will be restricted to the National Youth League this campaign but it does appear he is on John Aloisi’ radar.
Brisbane’s midfield seems to be the most balanced with a good mix of experienced and young options and a blend of attacking and defensive minded players. The starting duo of McKay and Kristensen looks to be a strong combination, although that could well depend on the availability of Kristensen whose been eased through pre-season. The depth in the midfield is also arguably stronger in this position than anywhere else with the likes of Pepper and Konstandopoulos the first to get a chance