2016-17 Season Preview- Attacking MidfieldersPosted: September 28, 2016
With the new season set to get underway in just 9 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, central defenders and central midfielders, today we’ll look at the Attacking Midfielders.
It seems that this season could see a change in the shape of the midfield as John Aloisi introduces a no.10 to the side, a move which will bring about a slight change in the way Brisbane play but one which should add some more control of the game with two deeper lying midfielders.
Apart from some brief flirtations from Frank Farina and Ange Postecoglou at times with a 4-4-2 shape, Brisbane have almost exclusively played a 4-3-3 shape with a midfield trio where three central midfielders have played alongside one another which has allowed for them to control the possession in the vast majority of games. There has however been a few instances where that 4-3-3 has morphed into a 4-2-3-1 shape to accommodate the likes of Charlie Miller and Mitch Nichols in years past.
The signing of Holman following a protracted period of negotiations including the rejection of the former Socceroo as a marquee player outside of the salary cap but adds an extra element to the 2016-17 side from an attacking standpoint.
Holman arrives back in Australia following a 14 year overseas career including stops in Netherlands where he won the title with AZ Alkmaar and one season in the English Premier League with Aston Villa. More recently Holman has been in the United Arab Emirates with Al Nasr before spending last season with Emirates Club.
As a player Holman brings the ability to link up all of Brisbane’s patterns going forward and looms as a vital cog between the midfield duo of McKay and Kristensen, and the attacking trio around him of Maclaren, Borrello and either Broich or Oar.
We’ve not seen a lot of Holman in the Pre-Season with just the one 45 minute cameo in the first half against the NPL Queensland u-23 select side last season, a game in which he looked a little rusty but showed the potential he has to bring to the side this season. It could take a few weeks for Holman to reach peak fitness, but once he gets there the former Socceroo figures to play a big part in the side.
While Brisbane didn’t play with a traditional no.10 last season, it was Petratos who filled that role in the midfield three albeit more on the right hand side as opposed to centrally. The big question over Petratos is his ability to perform at his best consistently over the course of an entire season, with his performances often varying over the season.
Last season ended well for Petratos who was an integral part of the side with impressive performances towards the back end of the season including in the finals series. Seven goals last season was a career best for Dimi and rates amongst the leagues best, however with just 15% of his shots being on target there’s room for improvement which dates back to the consistency issue.
This season will be an interesting one for Petratos with much more competition for places in the side in his positions. With new signing Brett Holman likely to play a key role in that central attacking midfield position, Petratos could be shifted to either the right hand side where Brandon Borrello is an option or to a super sub role similar to that which Henrique occupied in previous seasons.
In the pre-season Dimi has played in both the central role and on the right hand side although it’s worth noting that with Holman available in Saturday’s game with the NPL u-23 select side, Petratos started out on the right wing before switching more central in the second half following Holman’s withdrawal at half-time.
In the FFA Cup loss to Perth, Aloisi opted to move Oar central when chasing the game in the second half and while the team looked better with Oar playing centrally it wasn’t enough to turn the game back in Brisbane’s favour. This was however before Brett Holman was even rumoured as a signing for Brisbane so the addition of the former Socceroo could limit Tommy’s potential playing time in a central role this season. I’ll talk more about Tommy in previews later in the week when we cover his more natural left wing role.
Broich has been deployed centrally in the past with mixed results and is a fourth option Aloisi could call upon. Thomas’ best work centrally however has been as a ‘false 9’ so it’s likely that Broich will be limited to the left wing role where he’s been a fixture since joining the Roar in 2010.
It’s possible that Broich could see some game time in the central attacking-midfield role, although it’s far more likely that following the signing of Holman that he will be utilised on the left in competition with Tommy Oar.
In terms of youth options, there’s so clear standout in this role due to the fact the Young Roar side played mostly with one holder and two men ahead of him. Should they be needed the likes of Nathan Konstandopoulos and Jesse Daley could play in that role –and have at times in pre-season-, while an outsider in the frame would be first year scholar Nicholas Panetta who showed glimpses of promise but is still likely a year away from being in the running. Given the importance of the role however it’s unlikely that any of the clubs youth will be deployed in this role.
The arrival of Holman figures to add some extra quality and experience to a midfield group which also stacked with those attributes, although the question of a starting midfield consisting of two 33 year olds and a 32 year old being two old is a valid one. Holman and McKay however are noted for their energy and work-rate so it’s not quite as bad as it seems.
The change to a 4-2-3-1 will be an interesting one to watch over the course of the season with the likelihood of there being more rigid roles for the midfield trio as opposed to the more fluid roles we’ve seen in years past. However this role plays out, and the influence that Holman has on the team this season will likely go a long way to deciding the 2016-17 teams fate.