2016-17 Season Preview- Opposition

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve taken an in depth look at the 2016-17 Brisbane side, covering all of the first team players and the youngsters who are waiting in the wings for an opportunity. Today with the new season kicking off on Friday night we’ll take a look at the nine opposition clubs and who figures to be the teams to beat.

Adelaide United
Last Season: 1st
Manager: Guillermo Amor

In: Ryan Kitto, Marc Marino, Ben Garuccio, Jesse Makarounas, Henrique, Nikola Mileusnic, Sergi Guardiola, James Holland.

Out: Eli Babalj, Bruce Kamau, Ruon Tongyik, Craig Goodwin, Pablo Sanchez, Stefan Mauk, Bruce Djite, Mate Dugandzic.

Squad
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Last seasons’ Champions have undergone an off-season makeover with five members of their Grand Final side moving on, including last seasons duel top scorers Bruce Djite and Pablo Sanchez.

Hopefully filling that loss of goals will be Sergi Guardiola, who arrives on a season long loan from Granada. Former Brisbane fan favourite Henrique and James Holland add to the sides starting line-up while they’ve also added to their South Australian contingent with Garuccio, Marino and Kitto.

Central Coast Mariners
Last Season: 10th
Manager: Paul Okon

In: Jacques Faty, Mickael Tavares, Ivan Necevski, Connor Pain, Blake Powell, Kwabena Appiah.

Out: Alastair Bray, Mitch Austin, Josh Rose, Anthony Kalik, Francesco Stella, Dan Heffernan, Tomislav Uskok, Luis Garcia.

Squad
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After a poor season last time around with just the three wins, the Mariners have looked to strengthen the spine of their side adding Sydney trio Ivan Necevski, Jacques Faty and Mickael Tavares to what is a young side. Former Wellington striker Blake Powell will also add to the firepower.

The off-season however has been one of upheaval off the park as well, with Tony Walmsley being sacked following a loss to Green Gully in the FFA Cup Round of 32. In Wamsley’s place is Paul Okon, who gets his chance in the A-League after years in the Young Socceroos coaching set-up. With the bulk of the recruitment done prior to his arrival however he’ll need to make do with what he’s got in the interim.

Melbourne City
Last Season: 5th
Manager: John van’t Schip

In: Manny Muscat, Bruce Kamau, Ruon Tongyik, Luke Brattan, Daniel Arzani, Neil Kilkenny, Fernando Brandan, Tim Cahill, Josh Rose, Michael Jakobsen, Nicolas Colazo, Braedyn Crowley.

Out: Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo, Aaron Mooy Jack Clisby, Jacob Melling, Harry Novillo), Marc Marino, Ben Garuccio, Patrick Kisnorbo.

Squad
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City completed the coup of the off-season with the arrival of Tim Cahill as a marquee player, and his partnership with Bruno Fornaroli figures to be one of the storylines of the season. While City look strong in the middle and front thirds if they have a weakness, it’s at the back, particularly in the full-back areas where they are potentially light on.

Across the board however City have one of, if not the best squad in the league and figure to be right in amongst the contenders over the course of the season. Should they fail to meet the expectations, it could be the end for van’t Schip with the City Football Group surely expecting a return for all of their investment.

Melbourne Victory
Last Season: 6th
Manager: Kevin Muscat

In: James Donachie, Mitch Austin, Alan Baro, James Troisi, Marco Rojas, Alastair Bray.

Out: Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler, Mathieu Delpierre, Archie Thompson, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Dylan Murnane, Jesse Makarounas, Joey Katebian, Connor Pain, Thomas Deng, Danny Vukovic.

Squad
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Victory will probably start favourites once again this season with Kevin Muscat re-inventing his squad following last seasons disappointing conclusion to the season. Troisi, Baro and Rojas have come in to replace Finkler, Delpierre and Barbarouses respectively, while Austin and Donachie add to the teams impressive depth.

The one question mark is in goals where Lawrence Thomas is yet to fully nail down the position and with limited options behind him they will need to hope he delivers upon his potential. On the whole however Victory possess probably the most complete side in the league this season and should be there when the silverware is handed out.

Newcastle Jets
Last Season: 8th
Manager: Mark Jones

In: Devante Clut, Wayne Brown, Daniel Alessi, Andrew Hoole, Jack Duncan, Ivan Vujica, Andrew Nabbout, Alesandr Kokko.

Out: Cameron Watson, Enver Alivodic, Leonardo, Brandon Lundy, Ryan Kitto, Mark Birighitti.

Squad

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Newcastle will be hoping that the return of Jones to the club can return the Newcastle spirit to the Jets because on paper at least it appears they have a squad that can push for the finals.

The squad has a group of talented youngsters who broke through at other A-League clubs but failed to be regulars and are looking for regular playing time, with the likes of Clut, Alessi, and Hoole all falling into that category. Jones however will be dealing with the same situation as Okon with limited spots open to him to bring players in to the squad.

Perth Glory
Last Season: 5th
Manager: Kenny Lowe

In: Rhys Williams, Joseph Mills, Nick Feely, Liam Reddy, Brandon Wilson, Rostyn Griffiths, Milan Smiljanic, Joel Chianese.

Out: Gyorgy Sandor, Ruben Zadkovich, Diogo Ferreira, Hagi Gligor, Krisztian Vadocz, Jerrad Tyson, Ante Covic.

Squad
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A theme of Perth’s recruitment has been to acquire Western Australian with 14 currently on the books including the return of Rhys and Rostyn Williams. The U-turn of Chris Herd is a loss but with Smiljanic coming in as a replacement Perth will see them lose nothing, and while the losses of Zadkovich, Sandor Vadocz and Covic will hurt they’ve replaced them well.

Should all of Perth’s recruits gel the Glory could be set for a return to the top of the table, a place they made their own for the majority of the 2014-15 season before salary cap breaches saw them removed from the finals picture.

Sydney FC
Last Season: 7th
Manager: Graham Arnold

In: Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo, Josh Brillante, Danny Vukovic, Bernie Ibini, Bobo, George Timotheou, Charles Lokolingoy, Bai Antoniou.

Out: Jacques Faty, Michael Tavares, Ivan Necevski, Ali Abbas, Zac Anderson, Robert Stambolziev, Christopher Naumoff, Jacob Tratt, Riley Woodcock, Alex Mullen, Anthony Bouzanis, Andrew Hoole, Shane Smeltz.

Squad
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Wellington Phoenix
Last Season: 9th
Manager: Ernie Merrick

In: Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler, Marco Rossi, Adam Parkhouse, Jacob Tratt, Ryan Lowry.

Out: Ben Sigmund, Manny Muscat, Justin Gulley, James McGarry, Oliver Sail, Albert Riera, Troy Danaskos, Kwabena Appiah, Blake Powell.

Squad
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Wellington have recruited strongly this season with Victory duo Barbarouses and Finkler bolstering the Nix attack and Italian defender Marco Rossi coming in to replace the retiring Ben Sigmund in defence. Aside from Sigmund, Wellington have retained most of their important players with just Riera, Muscat and last seasons revelation Blake Powell moving on.

The big problem for the Wellington is they start the year without their All Whites players due to the international break, something which will impact the start to their season and test their already somewhat thin depth. If the Phoenix can keep their best team on the park this season finals should be on the radar.

Western Sydney Wanderers
Last Season: Second
Manager: Tony Popovic

In: Jerrad Tyson, Steven Lustica, Bruno Pinatares, Artiz Borda, Jumpei Kusukami, Robert Cornthwaite, Jack Clisby, Jacob Melling, Kerem Bulut, Nicolas Martinez, Emilio Martinez.

Out: Alberto Aguilar, Andreu Mayoral, Romeo Castelen, Golgol Mebrahtu, Federico Piovoccari, Matt Sim, Liam Reddy, Josh Macdonald, Mark Bridge, Shayne D’Cunha, Alusine Fofanah, Daniel Alessi, Dario Vidosic, Jacob Pepper, Scott Jamieson.

Squad
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Last seasons beaten Grand Finalists have undergone a major overhaul once again going into this season with Alberto, Andreu, Castelen, Bridge, Vidosic and Jamieson, all of whom played a big part in the team last time around all moving on. In their place are a bunch are imports Pinatares, Borda and Martinez who should look to solidify the spine of Tony Popovic’s side.

The big question mark on the Wanderers is the potential lack of firepower with the lack of a big name striker upfront to put the ball in the net, although the return of fan favourite Bulut could help. Left back, where Jack Clisby is the likely starter is also a potential problem area. A finals appearance could be on the cards for the Wanderers, although they are likely to be an outsider for honours this season.


2016-17 Season Preview- Strikers

With the new season set to get underway in just 6 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 team. Previously we’ve covered the Goalkeepers, the right backs, the left- backs, central defenders, central midfielders, Attacking Midfielders right wingers, and the left wingers, today we preview the finial position in the team; the strikers.

Last season was a breakout year for Jamie Maclaren, who went from super sub with Perth Glory to the most prolific Australian striker in the history of the A-League before earning his National Team debut. This year figures to be more of the same for Jamie, although there’s a couple of talented youngsters’ waiting in the wings for a chance.

Jamie Maclaren
Jamie’s importance on the 2016-17 side cannot be underestimated with Maclaren scoring 20 of the teams 52 goals last season, becoming just the second Brisbane player after Besart Berisha to score that many in a season for the Roar.

Last seasons stellar form earned praise from experts and fellow players alike with calls for a Socceroos debut a constant over the second half of the season, with Ange Postecoglou giving him the chance in the post-season friendly against England. It was a tough first test for Jamie on the international stage but there’s plenty more to come, and should the goal scoring for of last year translate to this it could be sooner rather than later.

Should those goals continue to flow this season, the question regarding the future of Maclaren is likely to crop up once again, with the strike in significant demand from various suitors towards the end of last season. Maclaren chose to stay with Brisbane for the second year of his two year deal, however with that due to expire at seasons end, and the likelihood of further overseas interest he won’t be short of options for his next contract. For now though the focus will be on performing here once again with Brisbane, and allowing National Team and contractual matters to sort themselves out.

Joey Katebian
2015 was a good one for Katebian, scoring 33 goals for Melbourne Victory in NPL 2 Victoria helping his former side win promotion. That run in front of goals saw Katebian score make his debut for the Victory in their FFA Cup run, going on to make two appearances for the club before being released at the end of the season.

Appearances have been rather thin in the pre-season for Katebian, which probably means that the majority of his football will be in the National Youth League, although a substitute’s appearance or two over the course of the season can’t be ruled out.

For Melbourne Katebian mostly played upfront, including in a game last season against the Young Roar in the NYL down at the Cleveland Showgrounds. On that day Katebian was the standout for the Victory despite Brisbane’s 3-1 win.

Nicholas D’Agostino
D’Agostino was on fire in the NPL Queensland this season, scoring 10 goals in 11 matches before being withdrawn to prepare for pre-season with the A-League side where the young striker has made a couple of substitutes appearances in the games.

Those goals in the NPL however were enough to secure a one year deal with Brisbane and the a trial with Belgian side Genk, which despite falling through shows that he’s on the radar of clubs in Europe.

While there’s no doubt D’Agostino would do a job in the A-League if given the opportunity, it’s unlikely that he will get more than a handful of in the first team this season so the majority of his playing time will likely be in the National Youth League.
Last season Jamie Maclaren was one of the biggest success stories for both Brisbane and the league as a whole becoming one of the league’s best strikers, and with just young duo Joey Katebian and Nicholas D’Agostino in reserve to Maclaren, the form of Brisbane’s #9 will be pivotal to the sides’ success this season.


2016-17 Season Preview- Left Wing

With the new season set to get underway in just 7 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, central midfieldersattacking midfielders and right wingers today we’ll look at the left wingers.

If there’s one outfield position that looms as the selection battle to watch over the course of the season it’s on the left hand side of midfield with both Tommy Oar and Thomas Broich having strong claims on the role. Both will likely get their chance over the course of the season and the decision on who starts could well come down to a tactical choice between two different types of wingers.

Tommy Oar
After playing just a bit part role following his arrival in January, this season figures to see the fringe Socceroo re-establish himself as an important member of the first team squad.

Last season was a disrupted one for Tommy who departed English side Ipswich Town just months after signing for the Championship side, before going on to make just the six appearances late in the season with the Roar.

As a player Oar brings a different style to the left hand side for the Roar, with the 25 year old being a more direct and pacy proposition for defences as opposed to Broich who uses his quick feet to create chances for his teammates. As a duo it could prove to be an effective tandem with coming off the substitutes bench midway through the second half to offer fresh legs and create a different problem should Brisbane be chasing the game.

This year is an important one for Oar, who will be desperate to regain his place in the National Team set-up ahead of next years’ Confederations Cup. In the pre-season Oar has been a regular in the sides before a recent injury which has kept him out of the previous two matches, and perhaps tellingly in the FFA Cup Round of 32 loss to Perth it was Oar who started on the left hand side ahead of Broich.

Thomas Broich
Having been considered an automatic started since arriving in 2010, this could be the year that Thomas Broich transitions from the starting line-up to a substitutes role.

As mentioned in the above discussion around Tommy Oar, playing time and starting appearances could come down to tactical decisions as much as how either player performs.

Despite all of that however, Thomas is still amongst the most talented players in the league and even with diminished playing time he still figures to have a big impact on the outcome of Brisbane’s 2016-17 season.

This pre-season has seen Thomas feature regularly in the side, although perhaps in a sign of things to come he was dropped to the substitutes bench for the FFA Cup loss to Perth. With his contract up at the end of this season and the recent public comments about winding down, this could be the last season we see Thomas in orange.

Joseph Champness
While Oar and Broich are likely to command the majority if not all of the playing time on the left, youngster Joseph Champness is another promising young winger waiting in the wings of the clubs youth ranks.

Like Prasad on the right Champness arrived in the Young Roar squad at this time last season following a successful season with Moreton Bay United, and has been a regular in the National Youth League and NPL Queensland campaigns.

Champness made 14 appearances in the NPL this past season, scoring four times playing mostly from the left hand side but he has shown the versatility to play on the right at times.

Over the course of the pre-season, Champness has been in and around the first team squad, appearing in a couple of games but was an unused substitute in the FFA Cup lost to Perth. Champness has also been part of the Young Socceroos squad, scoring the winner in the AFF u-19 Championships and was today named in the squad for the AFC u-19 Championships which double as the qualifiers for next years’ u-20 World Cup in South Korea.

The left wing position figures to be fascinating with an interesting one with two outstanding options at John Aloisi’ disposal, and it’s a luxury that the other nine managers in the league would love to have. With Oar missing a couple of games with injury I wouldn’t be surprised if Broich is preferred in round one, but both will feature prominently.


2016-17 Season Preview- Right Wing

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, central midfielders and the Attacking Midfielders, today we’ll look at the right wingers.

Last season youngster Brandon Borrello cemented his spot as the first choice on the right wing with some high energy performances, acting as a solid foil for striker Jamie Maclaren. This year however his competition has changed with fan favourite Henrique moving on, he’s now got the displaced Dimitri Petratos fighting for his old spot back in addition to a couple of youngsters who are in a  similar position to which he found himself in just two years ago.

Brandon Borrello
Last season in his first full season as a starter, Borrello netted a respectable five goals in as a secondary attacking option for John Aloisi’ side, although four of those did come in the opening month of the season.

As is expected with younger players making there way there was a dip in form midseason which resulted in a few weeks out of the starting side before he fought his way back into the side towards the end of the season.

The development of Brandon over the past 18 months or so does raise the question of how long he will remain with Brisbane, with reported interest from both European and Asian suitors before the 21 year old signed a fresh two year contract extension earlier this year. Should he continue to develop as expected over the next year or so, that interest is likely to return.

In terms of what would mark as progress for Borrello this season, playing in all 27 league games –he played 22 last time around- and adding an extra 3-4 goals to his tally for the season –pushing him towards double figures- would put him in the frame for higher honours and a move abroad.

Borrello has been a regular in pre-season occupying his usual right wing position in the games he’s playing, putting in sold if unspectacular performances and is set to start the season as the first choice on the right hand side.

Dimitri Petratos
As mentioned in the attacking midfielders preview Petratos spent most of last season playing as the most attacking minded of the midfield trio, although the arrival of Brett Holman could see him lose out in that position as John Aloisi utilises the talents of his big off-season signing.

In that eventuality, Petratos would likely either be limited to a substitutes role where he could cover any of the front four positions in the side, or be in competition for the right wing slot with Borrello.

Petratos of course did arrive in Brisbane to fill that role in 2013 following the departure of Ben Halloran and ended up playing a big part in the teams double winning season on that side, before shifting back into a midfield role the following season under new boss Frans Thijssen.

While Petratos has spent the majority of the pre-season playing that central role, Petratos did spend some time on the right hand side in the weekends game in perhaps a sign that he could be transitioning back to his initial role with the Roar.

Having someone with Petratos’ versatility in both roles is a real luxury for Aloisi as he looks for competition for places all across the side, but he’s also got to fill the massive shoes of Henrique who made that super sub role his own in recent times.

Shannon Brady
One of the forgotten men in the Brisbane squad, Brady has been rarely sighted in recent months, with the 20 year old not featuring on the team sheet since a NPL Queensland team sheet back in June.

It’s possible that given he hasn’t been sighted that Brady is no longer with the Roar, but there’s been no news of that affect so it’s likely that he’s either injured or completely out of favour.

Brady made just the two substitutes appearances last season, totalling just 25 minutes of game time and hasn’t appeared in any of the fixtures this pre-season, behind closed doors or open to attendance.

Assuming Brady is still with the Roar, that fact doesn’t bode well for him and with the likes of Jayden Prasad and Joseph Champness waiting in the wings as part of the Young Roar side there doesn’t appear to be a future for Brady in Brisbane.

Jayden Prasad
This time last season Prasad was getting to know his new Young Roar teammates having just joined the set-up from Redlands United, Jayden quickly established himself in the startling line-up over the summers National Youth League before further consolidating his building reputation in the NPL Queensland season.

Four goals in Eleven games doesn’t sound like the best return, but when you factor in he missed a third of the season on annual break and playing in pre-season with the first team it’s an impressive tally. Those first team opportunities came early in the pre-season in the two games on the Gold Coast against Sydney and Western Sydney.

Since the conclusion of the Young Roars’ NPL commitments, Prasad has spent time in and around the first team set-up and most recently was part of the Australian side which recently won the Asean Football Federation u-19 Championships.

Stylistically there’s a lot of comparisons to be drawn between Prasad and Borrello, with the two sharing similar attributes playing wise and  having their youth team performances overshadowed by highly regarded teammates. In the case of Borrello it was Jai Ingham and Kwame Yeboah, while for Prasad currently it’s Nicholas D’Agostino.

While Prasad is definitely talented, the presence of Borrello and Petratos is likely to limit Prasad’s chances to the Young Roar set-up once again this season, but if he continues to take strides forward similarly to those he has over the past season he could find himself in and around the first team.

There’s a number of options of the right wing position this season, and perhaps importantly for John Aloisi they’re all youngsters with high energy which could offset any potential issues surrounding the elder members of the midfield group alongside them. Borrello will once again be the man to watch, and John Aloisi will no doubt be hoping for further progression from his no.28.


2016-17 Season Preview- Attacking Midfielders

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.

Brett Holman
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.

Dimitri Petratos
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.

Tommy Oar
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.

Thomas Broich
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.

Youth
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.


2016-17 Season Preview- Central Midfielders

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.

Matt McKay
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.

Thomas Kristensen
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.

Jacob Pepper
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.

Nathan Konstandopoulos
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.

Joe Caletti
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.

Jesse Daley
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


2016-17 Season Preview- Central Defenders

With the new season set to get underway in just 14 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 and the left backs, today we’ll look at the central defenders.

If there’s one position which could define the 2016-17 season for Brisbane Roar it’s likely to be at centre back where John Aloisi has a range of options at his disposal, most however have questions over them going into the new season.

Jade North

2015-16 Appearances– 29
2015-16 Goals– 3

Last season was another typical Jade North season, playing in all bar one of Brisbane’s games, providing stability and experience to an otherwise youthful back four.

Defensively last season, North once again rated amongst the league leaders in Duels won, clearances and interceptions, while on the other side of the ball he added a goal-scoring knack to his game finding the net on three occasions, including two on set pieces where Brisbane were stronger last season than in the past.

With question marks next over his partner next to him Jade will once again need to be the leader of the back-line in 2016-17, where regardless of who is next to him will be a younger player be it DeVere, Bowles, Rowles or Crestani.

Luke DeVere
2015-16 Appearances– 0
While there’s no doubt surrounding the talent of DeVere, there’s a bunch of questions over his durability over the course of a six month season given the long list of injuries that have plagued his career.

Constant knee problems forced a return to Brisbane in January 2015 and after getting himself fit he was played in a post season friendly against Villarreal in May, a game where he would tare his groin off the bone in the opening minutes.

That injury would ultimately see him miss all of last season –aside from two 45 minute cameos in the NYL- and he’s only just returned to first team action in recent weeks in the clash against the BPL select side.

In that game DeVere got through unscathed and looked assured in the role at the back and according to reports played 70 minutes against Perth in Sydney yesterday. It’s likely he will still be regaining sharpness by the time round one rolls around, but he should be ready for his first game in the league since the rescheduled round 18 game against the Victory in April 2014.

As mentioned there’s no questioning his talent when fit as evidenced by his inclusion in the Socceroos setup by Ange Postecoglou after just a handful of games back in March 2015, it’s just a matter of keeping him fit.

If John Aloisi and his coaching staff are able to do so, they’ve got a top central defender at their disposal who could alter the fortunes of the 2016-17 side, if he does however succumb to further setbacks the options as cover look a little bleak.

Daniel Bowles
2015-16 Appearances– 22
2015-16 Goals– 1

After spending most of his first season back in Brisbane either at right back or on the sidelines, last season saw Daniel Bowles given his first taste of regular first team action in central defence and the results were mostly positive.

Adding height to an otherwise short backline, Bowles played in 22 games last season and showing glimpses of the potential to form a strong partnership alongside Jade North at the heart of defence.

Despite that however there were some dips in form throughout the six month campaign and those issues saw Bowles benched midway through the season and the 23 year old struggled to win his spot back as the finals series approached.

Going into the new season it seems likely that Bowles will start on the bench and act as the first defender called in to plug any holes over the back four, with the now fit again Luke DeVere set to partner Jade North in the heart of defence.

Despite the likelihood of not being in the side to start the season, Bowles is likely to play a big part in the 2016-17 side given the injury concerns surrounding DeVere and should see major minutes over the course of the 30 week season.

Kye Rowles
2015-16 Appearances– 0
Rounding out the quartet of central defenders in the first team squad is 18 year old Kye Rowles, who arrives in Brisbane as a youngster with tremendous promise.

Rowles, who emerged on the scene last year at the U-17 World Cup where his performances helped the Joeys progress to the Round of 16 in Chile.

Since joining Brisbane officially in May, Rowles is yet to play in the first team squad, although he was on the bench in the FFA Cup loss to Perth and has featured on a handful of occasions in the NPL Queensland.

This season is likely to be one of learning for Rowles, who figures to get most of his football in the National Youth League unless an injury crisis necessitates his debut in the A-League.

Rowles is also likely to be one of a few players called away for U-20 World Cup Qualifying when it begins next month in Bahrain.

The likes of Connor O’Toole, Jayden Prasad, Joey Champness, Jayden Prasad and Nicholas D’Agostino have all joined Rowles at various times with the Young Socceroos in recent months and could be involved in qualifying.

Youth- Cameron Crestani
There’s a couple of central defenders in the Young Roar set-up worth mentioning however the best of the group is 20 year old Cameron Crestani, who has been part of the set-up for the past three seasons.

Crestani has been on the fringes of the side for a while now including as an unused substitute in the FFA Cup Round of 32 loss to Western Sydney last season although he’s yet to make his debut.

A good all round defender both with and without the ball, Crestani is capable of playing anywhere across the back four and figures to be amongst the first called up from the youth set-up should an injury crisis hit.

Others who are worth mentioning but unlikely to feature this season are Aaron Reardon and mid-season arrival from Western Pride Hayden McHenery, who formed a solid partnership towards the end of the NPL Queensland campaign and are likely to be given the chance to continue that in the National Youth League.

While collectively John Aloisi has a wide range of central defenders to choose from, there are question marks amongst the group. From the injury history of Luke DeVere or the youth of the depth beyond DeVere and North, the questions are there.

There is however no questioning that should everything pan out for the best, Brisbane would have one of the leagues best defensive pairings in the form of North and DeVere. The depth beyond that, similarly to the depth in the wide defensive positions does look a little shaky.