With the new season just days away from beginning it’s time for our annual season preview where we take a look at the 2017-18 team. Today in part 1 we’ll look at how the off-season played out with plenty of changes to the playing group along with a mixed bag of results on the field.
In recent years the off-season has been plagued with off field distractions however in 2017 things have been much smoother allowing for the focus to be on the field and the preparations for the new season.
There’s also been limited turnover with the arrival of Danny Tiatto as Football Operations Manager the only change over the closed season as coaching duo John and Ross Aloisi re-committed to the club. W-League head coach Mel Andreatta will also return for a second campaign when the new season starts in November.
April 19th- Thomas Broich announces decision to leave
May 17th- Manuel Arana, Cameron Crestani, Joey Katebian & Nathan Konstandopoulos released
May 19th- Jamie Maclaren joins Darmstadt 08
May 27th- Brandon Borrello joins 1.FC Kaiserslautern
June 19th- Tommy Oar joins Apoel FC
June 26th- Kye Rowles departs Brisbane and joins Central Coast Mariners
Brisbane’s biggest name departures were known in advance when Thomas Broich flagged his intention to leave the Roar in the build-up to the Elimination Final against Western Sydney, while attacking duo Brandon Borrello and Jamie Maclaren confirmed their departures in the aftermath of the Matchday 6 Champions League loss to Ulsan Hyundai.
The June departure of Tommy Oar to Cypriot champions Apoel FC was more of a surprise, however the wingers departure did free up a valuable marquee position which would prove crucial in the recruitment efforts.
June 22nd- Michael Theo and Avram Papadopoulos re-sign
June 30th- Jacob Pepper and Joe Caletti re-sign
As pre-season training drew closer, announcements surrounding the remaining out of contract players were made; firstly with the news that experienced first team duo Michael Theo and Avram Papadopoulos had re-signed for the 2017-18 season.
Following on from that was the news that breakout midfielder Joe Caletti had re-signed for a new season, with back-up utility Jacob Pepper set to join him for a second season in Brisbane.
May 26th- Fahid Ben Khalfallah joins Brisbane Roar
June 4th- Corey Gameiro joins Brisbane Roar
June 6th- Dane Ingham promoted from youth team
June 17th- Massimo Maccarone joins Brisbane Roar
August 4th- Mitchell Oxborrow joins Brisbane Roar
August 6th- Emilio Martinez joins Brisbane Roar as scholarship player
August 9th- Peter Skapetis joins Brisbane Roar, upgraded from injury replacement contract
September 9th- Erik Bautheac joins Brisbane Roar
Brisbane’s first signing for the new season was announced in late May as Fahid Ben Khalfallah joined Brisbane Roar on a one year deal, and he joined James for his first interview as a Roar player on the Brisbane Football Review podcast.
The signing of Ben Khalfallah was followed up by the arrival of former Wellington, Sydney and Melbourne City striker Corey Gameiro, and the promotion of young full-back Dane Ingham to a three year senior deal.
Brisbane’s biggest off-season move was confirmed on June 17 however when the club announced it had signed former Italian international Massimo Maccarone as a marquee player for the 2017-18 season to fill the boots of German bound striker Jamie Maclaren. While the signing of the 37 year old has been questioned by many, his experience in what is an otherwise youthful striking department should prove valuable over the season.
Attention then turned to rounding out the squad as midfield duo Mitchell Oxborrow and Emilio Martinez signed on to provide additional depth. Oxborrow arrived following a brief stint with NPL Northern NSW side Broadmeadow Magic after his departure from Perth Glory was confirmed, while Martinez signed as a scholarship player after impressing for the Young Roar in their NPL Queensland campaign after arriving from Western Sydney.
While Peter Skapetis was initially signed as an injury replacement for Daniel Bowles, his stellar pre-season form forced the hand of John Aloisi as the former Stoke City junior signed a permanent one year deal in early August.
Brisbane then rounded out their recruitment with a second high profile arrival from Europe in the form of 30 year old French winger Erik Bautheac from French Ligue 1 side Lille. While Bautheac’s arrival has been held up due to visa issues, the French winger figures to play a big part in Brisbane’s 2017-18 campaign and is reportedly set to arrive by the end of the week.
Pre-Season and FFA Cup Games
July 26th- Lions FC 0-2 Brisbane Roar
August 6th- Peninsula Power 2-4 Brisbane Roar
August 9th- (FFA Cup) Brisbane Roar 1-5 Melbourne Victory
August 18th- Western Sydney Wanderers 4-0 Brisbane Roar
August 27th- China u-22 XI 1-2 Brisbane Roar
September 1st- Melbourne Victory 3-1 Brisbane Roar
September 9th- Olympic 0-3 Brisbane Roar
September 16th- Sydney FC 0-2 Brisbane Roar
Pre-season games began at Lions Stadium in Richlands as the Roar paid homage to their roots in the first edition of the Heritage shield, with second half goals from Shannon Brady and Rahmat Akbari giving John Aloisi side a first up win as they experimented with a new 3-4-3 formation.
Up next was another hit out against Brisbane Premier League opposition in the form of Peninsula Power and after Dean Briggs gave the hosts an early lead Peter Skapetis got the first of many goals over the pre-season to level the scores. Power took the lead again through Thomas Strickland with Brisbane cancelling out that advantage midway through the second half with a Nick D’Agostino strike. D’Agostino was then replaced as Massimo Maccarone made his first appearance in Roar colours and scored less than five minutes after entering the game after he sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot, before an expert second goal just before the final whistle rounded out the scoring.
Attentions then turned to the FFA Cup Round of 32 where the Brisbane were at home for the second straight year and once again they failed to capitalise on that advantage. Victory proved far to good on the night with a Besart Berisha brace, in addition to goals from Mitch Austin, James Troisi and Mark Milligan proving more than enough. Peter Skapetis continued his goalscoring form with a late consolation for the Roar.
Another big loss to an A-League side soon followed with Western Sydney running out 4-0 winners at the tail end of a week long camp on the Gold Coast, before Brisbane returned to Robina to take on a Chinese u-21 side and after a niggly encounter they ran out 2-1 winners thanks to a late Massimo Maccarone penalty.
A trip to Ballarat for a second pre-season clash against Victory followed just days later and despite the score being closer this time around, Melbourne were still too good for an undermanned Roar with Skapetis continuing his form in front of goal.
That form continued as the Roar returned to Brisbane to take on NPL Queensland side Olympic FC and that goal scoring form continued as Skapetis opened the scoring for Brisbane before late goals from Maccarone and Shannon Brady rounded out the win.
Brisbane’s final pre-season hit-out before round one took them to Sydney for a clash with the defending champions and further goals from Maccarone and Skapetis netted John Aloisi’ side a much needed win over A-League opposition ahead of the new season.
With the A-League now entering the pre-season it seems like a good time to recap the changes across the competition since Adelaide won their first Championship back in early May. It’s still too early to make any predictions for the upcoming season, and almost all sides still have some big recruitment decisions to make or announce but plenty has happened in the last six weeks or so.
In: Ryan Kitto (Newcastle Jets), Marc Marino, Ben Garuccio (Melbourne City), Jesse Makarounas (Melbourne Victory).
Out: Craig Goodwin (Sparta Rotterdam), Eli Babalj (AZ Alkmaar- Loan Return), Pablo Sanchez (Released), Bruce Kamau, Ruon Tongyik (Melbourne City) Ben Warland, Mark Ochieng, John Solari, Dylan Smith (All released).
Current best available XI: Galekovic, Marrone, McGowan, La Rocca, Isaias, Mauk, Carrusca, Dugandzic, Cirio, Djite.
Reserves: Hall, Elsey, Garuccio, Mells, Makarounas, Kitto, Marino.
Starting with the defending Champions and Adelaide have managed to keep a large portion of their Championship winning roster in tact with just Craig Goodwin, Bruce Kamau and Pablo Sanchez moving on from the Grand Final winning side. In their stead are a few South Australians playing elsewhere in the league with Ben Garuccio, Marc Marino, Jesse Makarounas and Ryan Kitto adding extra depth.
The one position still to be filled by the Reds is the right wing role where Bruce Kamau established himself last season. They do however have a visa spot to play with so they could yet bring in a quality replacement. All up though things are looking relatively smooth for the defending champs.
In: Kye Rowles (Palm Beach), Connor O’Toole (Adelaide United Youth), Jacob Pepper (Western Sydney).
Out: Devante Clut (Newcastle), Jean Carlos Solórzano (Rochedale Rovers), Shane Stefanutto (Retired), Javier Hervas (Zeljeznicar), Steven Lustica (Western Sydney), James Donachie (Melbourne Victory), Henrique Silva (Negeri Sembilan), Miguel Corona (Almeria).
Current best available XI: Young, Hingert, North, Bowles, Brown, Pepper, Petratos, McKay, Oar, Broich, Maclaren.
Reserves: Theo, Polenz, DeVere, Rowles, O’Toole, Caletti, Borrello, Brady.
It’s been another off-season of discontent in the river city with the clubs financial and ownership dramas once again in the foreground. There has also been a fair drain of talent off the roster leaving John Aloisi’ side looking rather thin at this stage.
The likes of Stefanutto, Corona, Henrique and Donachie have all moved on or retired, with just youngsters Rowles and O’Toole, plus ex Wanderer Jacob Pepper as additions. The focus for John Aloisi will likely be in the middle and front third where departures have left his options limited.
Central Coast Mariners
In: Ivan Necevski (Sydney FC), Jacques Faty (Sydney FC), Mickael Tavares (Sydney FC), Connor Pain (Melbourne Victory), Blake Powell, Kwabena Appiah (Wellington Phoenix), Jake Adelson, Adam Berry (Youth promotions).
Out: Luis Garcia (Retired), Anthony Kalik (Hajduk Split), Mitch Austin (Melbourne. Victory), Alistair Bray, Dan Heffernan, Tomislav Uskok, Francesco Stella (All Released).
Current best available XI: Necevski, Roux, Faty, Poscoliero, Neill, Montgomery, Tavares, Ferreira, Powell, Pain, O’Donovan.
Reserves: Izzo, Heward-Belle, Adelson, McGing, Ascroft, J. Rose, Berry, L. Rose, Appiah, McDonald, Bingham, Buhagiar, Fletcher.
Last season was a have undergone something of a transformation in terms of their squad with Tony Walmsley adding 8 players to his squad so far. Most of those recruits will add some much needed experience to the spine of the team, however they still do perhaps lack the game breakers to go on and make an impact in the competition.
With 24 players signed it’s likely that this is the squad which the Mariners will enter the new season with, however if there was to be any new additions a creative player to link the midfield to the front third would be a handy addition.
In: Luke Brattan, Anthony Caceres (Man City- Loan), Bruce Kamau, Ruon Tongyik (Adelaide United), Manny Muscat (Wellington Phoenix), Daniel Arzani (FFA Centre of Excellence).
Out: Aaron Mooy (Man City), Harry Novillo (Manisaspor), Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo (Sydney FC), Ben Garuccio, Marc Marino (Adelaide), Patrick Kisnorbo (Retired), Aaron Hughes, James Brown, Jason Trifiro, Wade Dekker (All released).
Current best available XI: Sorensen, Franjic, Muscat, Chapman, Clisby, Malik, Brattan, Caceres, Kamau, Fitzgerald, Fornaroli.
Reserves: Bouzanis, Retre, Tongyik, Melling, Arzani, Gameiro, Kuzmanovski.
City have spent up big in the closed season with a number of additions, and the possibility of more to come. A big part of their squad building has been swaps with their big brother in Manchester, with marquee man Aaron Mooy departing for England while Luke Brattan and Anthony Caceres return to the A-League on loan moves.
The real position of need for City appears to be at back where they could do with both a central defender and a left back, however rumours are swirling that they’re about to take advantage of the FFA’s newly introduced third marquee rule and bring Tim Cahill to the A-League.
In: James Donachie (Brisbane), Mitch Austin (Central Coast), Alan Baro (Ponferradina), Lucas Spinella, Stefan Nigro (Victory Youth).
Out: Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler (Wellington Phoenix), Thomas Deng (PSV Eindhoven-loan), Jesse Makarounas (Adelaide), Mathieu Delpierre (Retired), Dylan Murnane, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Joey Katebian, Archie Thompson (All Released).
Current best available XI: Vukovic, Geria, Donachie, Baro, Galloway, Broxham, Valeri, Bozanic, Austin, Ben Khalfallah, Berisha.
Reserves: Thomas, Nigro, Ansell, Georgievski, Mahazi, Ingham, Howard.
Victory have lost a number of key players in the aftermath of their Champions League exit with Delpierre Finkler, Barbarouses, Deng and long-time fan favourite Archie Thompson all moving on.
Replacements have been slow in arriving so far, but they have upgraded their backline with the addition of ex-Roar defender James Donachie and Spaniard Alan Baro. Creativity in midfield and another wide attack are amongst the likely players the Victory will bring in before the start of the season.
In: Devante Clut (Brisbane), Wayne Brown (SJK Seinäjoki), Daniel Alessi (Western Sydney), Andrew Hoole (Sydney), Jack Duncan (Randers), Ivan Vujica (Dinamo).
Out: Mark Birighitti (Heading to Europe-TBC), Ryan Kitto (Adelaide), Cameron Watson, Enver Alivodic, Leonardo, Josh Barresi, Brendon Lundy (All Released).
Scott Miller has a reasonably well rounded squad entering the pre-season, however the one area that still needs to be addressed is upfront, where Newcastle have a bunch of unknowns outside of Nordstrand and the returning Andrew Hoole. The addition of Devante Clut will also add some much needed goals from midfield.
Of those that have departed the Hunter, the biggest loss would undoubtedly be goalkeeper Mark Birighitti who is trying his luck in Europe, however the addition of former understudy Jack Duncan ensures Newcastle will have solid options to choose from in goal.
Current best available XI: Duncan, Hoffman, Mullen, Boogaard, Vujica, Ugarkovic, Poljak, Clut, Brown, Hoole, Nordstrand .
Reserves: Kennedy, Cowburn, Alessi, Muata-Marlow, Jackson, Kantarovski, Cooper, Brennan, Haliti, Pavicevic.
In: Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Joseph Mills (Oldham), Chris Herd (Chesterfield), Liam Reddy (Western Sydney), Brandon Wilson (Burnley), Nick Feely (Unknown).
Out: Ruben Zadkovich (Retired), Jerrad Tyson (Western Sydney), Gyorgy Sandor, Diogo Ferreira, Hagi Gligor, Krisztian Vadocz, Ante Covic, Jacob Collard (All Released).
Current best available XI: Reddy, Risdon, Djulbic, Lowry, Mills, R. Williams, Herd, Marinkovic, Harold, Castro, Keogh.
Reserves: Feely, Thurtell, A. Williams, Grant, Warren, Wilson, Oxborrow, Petratos, Garcia, Taggart.
Perth have been by far the busiest side this off-season in strengthening their roster ahead of the new season with the emphasis over in the west on bringing home the many talented West Australians playing elsewhere in the league and abroad.
To that end the additions of Williams, Herd and Taggart who is like a new addition despite signing in January make the squad much stronger and cover the losses of Covic, Sandor and Vadocz. A lot will still depend on marquee duo Diego Castro and Andy Keogh however.
In: Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo (Melbourne City), Josh Brillante (Fiorentina).
Out: Jacques Faty, Mickael Tavares, Ivan Necevski (Central Coast), Ali Abbas (Pohang Steelers), Andrew Hoole (Newcastle), Zac Anderson (Emirates Club), Shane Smeltz (Kedah), Chris Naumoff (Retired), Robert Stambolziev, Jacob Tratt, Riley Woodcock, Alex Mullen, Anthony Bouzanis (All Released).
Current best available XI: Janjetovic, Ryall, Wilkinson, Jurman, Zullo, O’Neill, Dimitrijevic, Ninkovic, Holosko, Carney, Blackwood.
Reserves: Grant, Calver, Brillante.
After a disappointing season last time around Graham Arnold has cleaned house with 13 players departing the club, most of which spent large parts of last season out of the side due to form or fitness.
So far replacements are rather thin on the ground with just City duo Alex Wilkinson and Michael Zullo coming in, along with the recently announced Josh Brillante who returns to the A-League after a spell with Fiorentina in Italy’s Serie A. Out of contract duo Alex Brosque and Matt Simon are both expected to re-sign, although neither has done so at this stage.
In: Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler (Melbourne Victory).
Out: Manny Muscat (Melbourne City), Justin Gulley, James McGarry, Oliver Sail (Wellington United), Kwabena Appiah, Blake Powell (Central Coast Mariners), Ben Sigmund, Albert Riera (Retired), Troy Danaskos (Released).
Current best available XI: Moss, Fenton, Durante, Fox, Doyle, Lia, Bonevacia, Finkler, McGlinchey, Barbarouses, Krishna.
Reserves: Italiano, Ridenton, Rufer, Rodriguez, Watson, Rogerson.
News from across the Tasman has been a bit sparse in recent weeks with just Victory duo Gui Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses as confirmed signings at this stage which suggests that there are signings to come.
The main area which figure to be focused on in terms of recruitment are at the back, where Ben Sigmund’s retirement leaves a hole in the middle of defence and there appears to be a general lack of depth.
Western Sydney Wanderers
In: Jerrad Tyson (Perth), Steven Lustica (Brisbane), Bruno Pinatares (Cerro), Artiz Borda (Alaves), Jumpei Kusukami (Sagan Tosu), Robert Cornthwaite (Selangor).
Out: Mark Bridge (Chiangrai United), Dario Vidosic (Liaoning Whowin), Daniel Alessi (Newcastle), Josh Macdonald (Wollongong Wolves), Albero Aguilar, Andreu Guerao, Romeo Castelen, Golgol Mebrahtu, Federico Piovoccari, Matt Sim, Liam Reddy, Shayne D’Cunha, Alusine Fofanah, Jacob Pepper (All Released).
First XI: Redmayne, Neville, Borda, Topor-Stanley, Jamieson, Pinatares, Delgado, Nichols, Sotirio, Kusukami, Shabow .
Reserves: Tyson, Cole, Cornthwaite, Aspropotamitis, Hamill, Bandiera, Baccus, Lustica, Scott, Youlley.
It’s been another off-season cull from Tony Popovic with 14 players moving on despite a top two finish and Grand Final berth. Of those who’ve moved on, perhaps the loss most closely felt will be Mark Bridge whose been an integral part of Wanderers since the club formed in 2013.
The squad has been strengthened at the back with Spaniard Artiz Borda and former Socceroo Robert Cornthwaite joining the squad. It’s upfront however where the holes are for the Wanderers with limited options as things stand as evidenced by youngster Mario Shabow being listed in the current best XI. There’s likely to be at least one new striker joining the red and black before October, while Brendan Santalab’s new contract is yet to be officially confirmed.
Plenty has happened while the first team squad have been on their annual break, so with pre-season starting today it’s a good time to take a look back at the events of the off-season.
28th– Clut departs Brisbane, joining Newcastle Jets on a 2 year deal.
29th– Roar branded City cat unveiled at South Bank.
29th– Jean Carlos Solórzano announces departure from Brisbane Roar.
30th– Shane Stefanutto announces retirement from professional football.
When the season eventually ended in late April, the early days of Brisbane’s off-season was dominated by the announcement of player departures. Long time left-back Shane Stefanutto retired after six seasons and 138 games for Brisbane, going on to play for NPL side Olympic and take up a position in the Roar media team. While attacking duo Devante Clut and Jean Carlos Solórzano announced their departures as their contracts expired joining Newcastle Jets and Rochedale Rovers respectively.
The other news of the month was the unveiling of the Brisbane Roar branded City Cat which roams up and down the Brisbane River along with ferries representing the cities other sports teams.
3rd– Javier Hervas and Steven Lustica confirmed as moving on as their contracts expire.
3rd– Roar add Kye Rowles and Connor O’Toole to the A-League squad,
duo sign 2yr deals.
7th– Javier Hervas joins Bosnian side Zeljeznicar
11th– CEO David Pourre announces departure.
11th– Local advisory board announced. David Pourre, Robert Cavalucci, Alicia Ferguson will be on it.
12th– Corona wins Gary Wilkins medal at annual awards night.
13th– Post-season training ends.
17th– Jade North signs 1 year contract extension.
28th– Jamie Maclaren makes Socceroos debut in a 2-1 loss to England.
29th– FFA give Bakrie Group a 24hr window to address concerns over financial and management of BRFC.
30th– Bakrie Group ask for a week long extension to respond to the FFA. FFA consider the request.
31st– FFA give Bakrie group a week to provide FFA a response to concerns over the management and financial position of BRFC.
The month of May began with further changes to the playing squad, with midfield duo Steven Lustica and Javier Hervas moving on as their contracts expired. Lustica ended up taking up a one year deal with Western Sydney, while Hervas returned to Europe with Bosnian side Zeljeznicar. Joining the Roar meanwhile are young defensive duo Kye Rowles and Connor O’Toole on two year deals. Central defender Rowles, 17, joins the Roar from Palm Beach after starring for the Australian u/17 side at the World Cup, while O’Toole, 19, joins from Adelaide’s youth side after a spell in Japan. Meanwhile experienced defender Jade North signed a contract extension.
At the clubs annual awards night Spanish midfielder Corona picked up the big award of the night, taking home the Gary Wilkins medal for winning player of the year. The big winner of the night however was Jamie Maclaren, who took home players’ player, members player, Golden Boot and young player of the year awards. On the women’s side, Angela Beard picked up the two big awards of the night including W-League player of the year, while Emily Gielnik won the Golden Boot.
The middle of May saw the announcement that Brisbane CEO David Pourre would be departing the role, although it was coupled with the announcement that there would be a Brisbane based advisory board on which Pourre would serve. Joining Pourre on that board are former LNP MP Robert Cavalucci and former Brisbane W-League player Alicia Ferguson.
After weeks of rumours surrounded further off-field stability, the FFA released a statement demanding that the Bakrie Group ease growing concerns surrounding the financial status and ongoing management of the club. It had been reported in the media that the clubs financial situation was heading towards the same situation as last off-season, while Indonesian directors Raheem Soekasah and Demis Djamaoeddin reportedly were unreachable. In response the Bakries asked for a further week in order to respond to the FFA, a request which the governing body eventually accepted.
1st– FFA Grant Bakrie Group a 1 week extension on deadline.
1st– Medial staff quit over unpaid medial bills.
1st– James Donachie announces departure. Later joins Melbourne Victory.
4th– Shane Stefanutto joins NPL Queensland side Olympic FC.
6th– Bakrie Group pledge to inject 2mil capital and appoint a CEO to keep the licence.
6th– FFA release statement indicating satisfaction at the ownerships response.
7th– Former Roar striker Jean Carlos Solórzano joins BPL side Rochedale Rovers.
8th– Daniel Cobb announced as Brisbane MD and interim CEO.
8th– Reports Bakrie Group set to sell BRFC licence to Melbourne consortium lead by Daniel Cobb.
9th– Season 2016-17 A-League Draw released. Brisbane to play 1st game of season against Melbourne Victory.
16th– Henrique confirms departure from Brisbane Roar.
22nd – 7 Roar youngsters named in Roar pre-season squad.
23rd– Western Pride Youngster Hayden McHenery added to Roar youth squad. Jaiden Walker joins GC City.
24th– Roar W-League assistant coach Jeff Hopkins joins Melbourne Victory as W-League head coach.
27th– Stefanutto joins Roar media team.
30th– Brisbane drawn against Perth Glory FFA Cup Round of 32.
June began where may left off, with the clubs medical department reportedly quitting the role due to some unpaid medical expenses. The off-field situation would receive some more clarity however with the clubs owners committing to inject 2million worth of capital and appoint a new CEO. The developments would prove enough to satisfy the FFA, despite rumours swirling that the governing body would step in and take over the licence.
Just days later the Bakrie Group announced Daniel Cobb as both Managing Director and Interim CEO, however that wasn’t the end of Cobbs involvement in the Roar with the Melbourne based businessman leading a consortium which would eventually buy the licence from the Indonesian ownership group.
Since that date however there has been little news on that front which has lead to ongoing uncertainty. On field it was a month of further departures, with long serving import Henrique and home grown defender James Donachie departing. Both opted not to renew their contracts in Brisbane with Henrique opting for a new challenge and more game time in Malaysia, while Donachie used a mistake in his contract expiry date to join Melbourne Victory.
Another departure from Brisbane to the Victory, with W-League assistant coach Jeff Hopkins taking the head coaching role of the Victory side who missed the finals last season. Hopkins has been involved in both the Roar youth and A-League sides, but it’s with the W-League side where he had the most success with two Championships, a Premiership and four Grand Final appearances in as many seasons.
June was also the month that saw the A-League and FFA Cup Round of 32 draws released, with Brisbane starting their league campaign at home to the Victory in the first game of the season. They also received a home draw in the FFA Cup, with fellow A-League side Perth Glory making the trip East.
Rounding out June was the announcement that seven of Brisbane’s best youth team products would be apart of the pre-season campaign with the first team. Defenders Mark Rodic and Connor O’Toole, midfield duo Joe Caletti and Nathan Konstandopoulos and attacking trio Joseph Champness, Jayden Prasad and Nicholas D’Agostino all joined in training today. With vacancies in the youth side due to the promotions, several members of the u/18 squad joined the NPL setup, as did Western Pride midfielder Hayden McHenery who has impressed this season.
1st– FFA refuse to dip into centralised marquee fund to help Brisbane secure Brett Holman.
4th– Clare Polkinghorne, Tameka Butt and Katrina Gorry named in the Matildas Olympics squad.
4th– Brisbane docked 3 NPL points for a mistake on the team sheet.
5th– Brisbane’s FFA Cup clash confirmed at Ballymore. Aug 10th.
6th– Brisbane’s training and admin bases move back to Ballymore.
7th– European interest in Jamie Maclaren returns.
9th– Brisbane sign Jacob Pepper to a one year A-League deal.
The month began with the announcement of the Matildas squad for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and three of Brisbane’s W-League stars made the cut. Defender and club captain Clare Polkinghorne, and midfielders Katrina Gorry and Tameka Butt making the cut for the tournament next month.
Finally, the off-season ended on a more positive note with the signing of midfielder Jacob Pepper on a one year deal. Pepper adds some depth and a more defensive mindset to a Brisbane midfielder which is stacked with attack minded players.
The off-season is now over and the preparations for next months FFA Cup Round of 32 clash against Perth, and the season proper beginning in October are now underway. Despite that there’s still plenty of uncertainty around the Roar which is likely to continue for a little while yet, both on and off the park.
This off-season has been one of, if not the most eventful in the Roar’s 10 year history, with the club seemingly going from one drama to the next. Since the season ended we’ve seen a coaching change, numerous player and front office departures and growing rumours of financial instability.
Here’s a look back on the events of this off season -to date-. Orange squares are facts confirmed by the club or a media outlet, or are common knowledge. Black squares are things reported by media outlets which are yet to be confirmed.
Brisbane’s season ended prematurely obviously with the Elimination final loss to Adelaide and a Group Stage exit in the ACL, however the changes started almost immediately. Within 24 hours of the loss on the Gold Coast to Urawa Reds, Director of Football Ken Stead had announced his resignation from the role he’s held for the past two years.
It was also at this time that reports first came out alluding to the clubs financial plight, with a newspaper story speculating that Brisbane were set to lose 2.5 million for the 2014-15 calendar year, primarily due to the AFC Champions League. That report sparked speculation that the club may go and cut costs in order to minimise losses.
Barely a week after Director of Football Ken Stead resigned from his role, General Manager Sean Dobson also followed suit, standing down after three years in the role. With Dobson and Stead seen as the two men who primarily pushed Mike Mulvey out the door, it was seen as a fresh slate for the club as they look to rebuild. Chris Fong, the clubs Chairman announced he would take over day to day control of the club.
Aside from the resignation of Dobson, very little else was confirmed with the clubs position up in the air, with no manager and very few football people remaining to oversee the appointment of a new Manager. Chris Fong jetted back to Indonesia, while Melbourne Victory went on to win the double to conclude the season.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom however, with Seven of the clubs talented W-League players selected for the Matildas World Cup squad. Clare Polkinghorne, Larissa Crummer, Laura Alleway, Elise Kellond-Knight, Tameka Butt, Hayley Raso and Katrina Gorry were all selected, while defender Kim Carroll was unlucky to miss out. With Germany selecting goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, there would be 8 Brisbane players in Canada.
It was then in late may when the club made a string of announcements, firstly with the appointment of David Pourre as the clubs Interim CEO before then announcing John Aloisi as the clubs new Manager 24 hours later. Aloisi joined on a 2 year contract and was given the task of rebuilding the club and returning the Roar to the top of the league.
Chris Fong meanwhile announced his intention to stand down as Chairman of the board, with Pourre taking over day to day operations.
There was also some movement on players with Andrija Kaluderovic, Ben Litfin, Kofi Danning, Jesse Daley, George Lambadaridis and Adam Sarota all moving on to pastures new. Shane Stefanutto however signed a new 1 year contract, while youngster Lachlan Jackson headed to the NPL Victoria in an off-season loan move.
Matt McKay won the clubs player of the year award at a hastily arranged end of year function.
It was at this point of the off-season that the on the field action was again front and centre with a high profile friendly against Villarreal CF, a game which Brisbane won handily thanks to two goals from Devante Clut.
That game was the last game of the Frans Thijssen era, with the Dutchman departing the scene, despite it being strongly suggested that he would be taking up some kind of Technical Director role following his coaching stint. Assistant Rado Vidosic, who returned in January, was also shown the door with Aloisi hinting at bringing in his own assistant as a replacement.
The on field action was also with the National Teams’, with Matt McKay playing a role in the Socceroos win over Kyrgyzstan which kick started the Road to Russia 2018. Meanwhile over in Canada at the Women’s World Cup, Katrina Gorry was busy creating the goal which would give the Matildas a 1-0 win over Brazil, and a 1/4 final berth.
There were no players coming in or going out, however there was a loose link to Eli Babalj, a striker who has worked with Aloisi in the past.
That brings us to this week, which started with a leaked email from Chris Fong to members of the staff, after it was revealed that player and staff payments were significantly overdue. It was revealed that the club has ‘serious liabilities’ and that 3.5 mil of capital is set to be injected to turn things around. It was also strongly suggested that legal action could be forthcoming against the clubs former General Manager, Sean Dobson, who resigned from his role a month ago.
Despite this apparent shortage of capital, the club announced that former captain Craig Moore would be returning to Brisbane as Football Operations Manager, a role that has been created to support John Aloisi in his role as Manager.
Barely 24 hours later, we saw arguably the biggest sign that finances were tight when the Roar forfeited two NPL Queensland clashes against FNQ Heat and Northern Fury due to what they called fixture congestion. The decision was universally panned, with many quick to the conclusion that the club couldn’t afford the travel costs associated with the two trips up north.
There was also speculation that the clubs former manager, Mike Mulvey was set to add to the clubs financial problems, with the sacked manager seeking the remainder of his payout. It was also suggested that the Coffee Club was set to walk away with their sponsorship up, while they were also left scrambling to find a training venue for pre-season which begins next week.
Finally, young goalkeeper Fraser Chalmers left the Roar in search of regular football, opting to move across Perry Park to the Brisbane Strikers, who the Roar face tomorrow in the NPL.
It’s been a hectic off-season with many twists and turns, and with pre-season set to get underway next week there’s no doubt plenty more to follow in the days and weeks to come.
In: Bruce Kamau (NYL Promotion)
Out: Nigel Boogaard (Newcastle Jets)
Out of contract: Miguel Palanca, Cameron Watson
Adelaide are the most settled of the teams across the league with minimal changes to Josep Gombau’s side which fell 90 minutes short of the Grand Final. In terms of needs, the biggest need to fill is at the back with a defender needed to replace the departed Boogaard. Another striker to play either in place of, or alongside the oft-injured Bruce Djite could also be on the agenda. It’s a settled side with a nice mix of experience and young local players however, not a lot to be done.
In: John Aloisi (Head Coach), Shannon Brady (NYL Promotion)
Out: Andrija Kaluderovic (Released), George Lambadaridis (Released), Kofi Danning (Oakleigh Cannons- NPL Victoria), Adam Sarota (FC Utrecht- Netherlands (Loan Return)), Ben Litfin (Palm Beach Sharks- NPL Queensland), Jesse Daley (Melbourne Victory NPL), Frans Thijssen (Head Coach), Rado Vidosic (Assistant Coach), Ken Stead (Technical Director).
Out of Contract: Nil.
It’s been an off-season of change for Brisbane off the park with the ownership cleaning house by removing the GM, the Technical Director and the coach, with John Aloisi given the job of bringing the Roar back to the top. In terms of players there’s no new arrivals as of yet, however a few players have departed, most notably Andrija Kaluderovic who scored 7 goals in 16 games. The biggest need will be upfront, with depth in the middle third also needed. The clubs bevy of talented NYL side gives them plenty of options should they look in that direction.
Central Coast Mariners
In: Roy O’Donovan (Mitra Kukar- Indonesia), Mitchell Austin (Cambridge United- England)
Out: Richard Vernes (Budapest Honved- Hungary (Loan Return)), John Hutchinson (Retired), Dejan Pandurevic (Manly United), Zac Anderson, Brent Griffiths, Matt Simon, Tom Slater, Isaka Cernak, Hayden Morton (All Released).
Out of contract– Eddy Bosnar.
Tony Walmsley has a lot of work to do when it comes to re-working this roster, with Irish journeyman Roy O’Donovan and young Australian Mitch Austin the first step. Of those leaving, Anderson was probably their best and is someone who would fit in a few teams across the league. There’s a lot more to do however, and he may look in the direction of Everton, with whom they have a player development relationship. Rebuilding the Mariners, with the restrictions the ownership have implemented will be a tough gig.
In: Ivan Franjic (Free Agent), Steven Kuzmanovski (Western Sydney Wanderers)
Out: Andrew Redmayne (Western Sydney Wanderers), Damien Duff, Kew Jaliens, Iain Ramsay, Mate Dugandzic, Rob Wielaert (All Released).
Out of contract: Jonatan Germano, Massimo Murdocca, Harry Novillo, Tando Velaphi.
City fell one game short of the Grand Final and have wasted little time in re-tooling with the release of three of their visa players. Coming in is Ivan Franjic, whose back in the A-League after a disappointing year in Russia with Torpedo Moscow. City find themselves in a position where their final recruits will most likely be visa players who they’ll hope make the difference this season. A goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and winger could all be on the agenda.
In: Danny Vukovic (Perth Glory).
Out: Nathan Coe, Andrew Nabbout, Jordan Brown, Michael Turnbull (All Released), John Paul de Marginy (Newcastle Jets- Assistant Coach).
Out of Contract: Daniel Georgievski, Lawrence Thomas, Archie Thompson, Jesse Makarounas.
Last years double winners are another stable side as they look to defend their title, with Danny Vukovic the only new arrival as yet. All eyes are however on Georgievski and Thompson, who could be waiting for the new CBA to be announced to see if they can afford to keep both or if they’re forced to choose between the two. Victory’s recruitment is almost done, with the majority of their squad in tact, however that could change if Mark Milligan departs for the Middle East.
In: Nigel Boogaard (Adelaide United), Andy Brennan (South Melbourne- NPL Victoria), Scott Miller (Fulham FC-England- Manager), John Paul de Marginy (Melbourne Victory- Assistant Coach).
Out: Andrew Hoole (Sydney FC), Zenon Caravella, Jess Vanstrattan, Taylor Regan, Sam Gallagher, James Virgili, John Solari (All Released), Phil Stubbins (Manager).
Out of contract: Nil.
It’s been all change for the Jets, who now find themselves under the ownership of the FFA. Unpopular manager Phil Stubbins has been shown the door, with English based Australian Scott Miller announced as head coach yesterday. Player wise Nigel Boogaard is the biggest addition to date, however they’ll need much more than that to lift themselves from the foot of the table.
In: Mitchell Oxborrow (NYL Promotion), Antony Golec (Western Sydney Wanderers).
Out. Daniel De Silva (AS Roma- Italy), Jack Duncan (Randers FC- Denmark), Brandon O’Neill (Sydney FC), Riley Woodcock (Sydney FC), Matthew Davies (Pahang FA- Malaysia), Rostyn Griffiths, Denis Kramar, Dejan Paljic (All Released).
Out of contract: Nil
After last year’s salary cap scandal, it’s an off-season of getting things in order as opposed to making big name additions, with Antony Golec their only addition from outside the club. The loss of both De Silva and Rostyn Griffiths will hurt their depth, as will the loss of home grown trio Woodcock, O’Neill and Davies.
In: Andrew Hoole (Newcastle Jets), Brandon O’Neill (Perth Glory) Riley Woodcock (Perth Glory).
Out: Marc Janko, Ivan Necevski, Sasa Ognenovski, Corey Gameiro, Milos Dimitrijevic, Hagi Gligor, Peter Triantis, Nick Carle (All Released).
Out of contract: Nil.
Sydney are another settled side, as you’d expect of a side who finished top two and made the Grand Final, with the majority of their recruitment completed back in January with Tavares, Faty and Stambolziev all sticking around. Marquee man Marc Janko departs however, as does Milos Dimitrijevic, who was linked to Brisbane back a couple of months ago.
Out: Tyler Boyd (Vitoria de Guimaraes- Portugal), Michael Boxall (SuperSport United- South Africa), Kenny Cunningham, Josh Brindell-South, Jason Hicks, Joel Griffiths (All Released).
Out of Contract- Nil.
Things have been quiet across the Tasman since their season ended in week one of the finals, with Ernie Merrick looking for 2 or 3 additions to his squad to push his side over the top. They reportedly made an offer to Archie Thompson, before withdrawing it after the deadline they imposed passed. Youngster Tyler Boyd is off to Portugal to further his career.
Western Sydney Wanderers:
In: Andrew Redmayne (Melbourne City), Jacob Pepper (Newcastle Jets), Scott Neville (Newcastle Jets), Shayne D’Cunha (NYL Promotion), Luke Youlley (NYL Promotion).
Out: Yianni Perkatis (Blacktown City- NPL NSW), Antony Golec (Perth Glory), Ante Covic, Tomi Juric, Nikita Rukavystya, Kerem Bulut, Iacopo La Rocca, Nick Ward, Jason Trifiro, Nick Kalmar, Adrian Madaschi, Sam Gallaway, Yusuke Tanaka, Yojiro Takahagi, Martin Lo (All Released).
Out of Contract: Nil.
After an extremely long season, the Wanderers have taken the opportunity to make sweeping changes to the roster after they gave Tony Popovic a new long term extension. Out go players who helped them to the ACL victory like Juric, Covic and La Rocca, in addition to midseason revelation Kerem Bulut and Japanese duo Tanaka and Takahagi. All up a massive 15 players have been let go by the Wanderers after a disappointing domestic season. Replacing them so far are goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne, defender Scott Neville and utility Jacob Pepper. You’d have to think there’s something big coming for the Wanderers with that much turnover.
Now that the dust has settled on Brisbane’s 2014-15 season, it’s time to look ahead to the off-season and free agency where Brisbane will be looking to plug a couple of holes in their side before trying to reclaim the silverware from October.
Contracted players for 2015-16 and beyond
Goalkeepers: Michael Theo, Jamie Young
Defenders: Jerome Polenz, Luke DeVere, Jade North, Corey Brown, James Donachie, Jack Hingert, Daniel Bowles.
Midfielders: Matt McKay, Luke Brattan, Thomas Broich, Devante Clut, Steven Lustica.
Forwards: Henrique, Shannon Brady, Jean Carlos Solórzano, Dimitri Petratos.
FT NYL: Brandon Borrello, Patrick Theodore.
Currently Brisbane have 18 players contracted to the first team, with both marquee spots filled and at least 3 of the 5 visa spots also already allocated –depending on the status of Henrique’s citizenship application-. That means there will need to be at least two signings to bring the quota up to the minimum of 20, with a maximum of 5 signings possible without losing any players. There is also one free full-time NYL spot up for grabs. The vast majority of this seasons squad however appear set to return.
Out of contract players
Andrija Kaluderovic, Shane Stefanutto, Adam Sarota (loan), Kofi Danning, George Lambadaridis, Ben Litfin (FNYL)
Of those out of contract, the most interesting case is to be made for Kaluderovic, who showed that he knows how to find the back of the net over the second half of the season- with 7 goals in 13 games.
A strike rate of a goal every other game is impressive, but criticisms of the Serbian include an inability or unwillingness to contribute in other areas of the game, including in the build up and pressing high from the front. He’s a poacher of goals, whose come in either way and ultimately you can make a good case either way for or against him.
A case could also be made for another 1 year contract being handed to veteran defender Shane Stefanutto, with Corey Brown looking anything but consistent at left back in his appearances this year. He’s lost a bit of pace and has suffered injury set backs, but a 1 year deal wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
The other first team player out of contract will likely be off, with Adam Sarota’s loan move from FC Utrecht expired, and the midfielder offered little reason to be kept on after dropping well down the pecking order towards the end of the season. He season was injury interrupted, but a lot was expected of the loan signing, unfortunately he fell short of living up to those expectations.
Youngsters Kofi Danning, George Lambadaridis and Ben Litfin are all likely to move on in the off-season with injuries limiting the game time with both coming into the side late on as Thijssen rested his regulars ahead of the ACL and finals. Both will likely be replaced in the squad by youngsters from the NYL side, while Ben Litfin may also lose is full-time National Youth League contract as well after he was seemingly usurped in the pecking order late in the season.
The end of this season showed the talent that lies within the Roar’s youth setup, with a number of the youngsters stepping up and playing well against Melbourne Victory before defeating Newcastle in the final round.
Brisbane have already promoted Shannon Brady to the first team in the past few weeks while they have one free spot in their full-time NYL ranks free to fill as well. Youth team regulars who got time in and around the first team like Goalkeeper Fraser Chalmers, defender Lachlan Jackson, midfielder Luke Pavlou and attacker Abrahim Yango are the most likely candidates to be promoted to either the full squad or full NYL ranks.
Positions of need
As seen above, most of Brisbane’s recruiting is already done unless they lose some of their contracted players to overseas clubs. They do however have areas that require strengthening in a couple of positions before the start of the next season.
Striker– The most glaring need is upfront, with the retention of Kaluderovic or a replacement striker to score the goals essential if Brisbane are to return to the top of the league next term. I outlined the case for and against retaining the Serbian earlier, ultimately id probably lean towards keeping him but that’s a decision that should be made by the new manager.
Left back– If Shane Stefanutto does decide to call time on his career, some competition for that spot in the side will be needed. Corey Brown is still around for next year, but he’s struggled at times this year with his defensive work in particular, so a more polished defensive option who can also get forward would be a good addition to the squad.
Aside from those two glaring needs above, there aren’t any other holes in the squad that need filling. There is also not likely to be a great deal of room to move within the confides of the salary cap this season, with little space freed up this off-season which could mean the much talked about rebuild may have to wait if they cant offload a couple of players.
A utility midfielder may however make some sense for Brisbane, with just five –including Broich- on the roster. There’s a couple of internal options for that role – Lambadaridis, Pavlou, Litfin-, or they could look further afield and bring somebody in.