2016-17 Season Review Part 1- Competition recap

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a look back at the season that was, the success stories, the disappointments and take a brief look to what may lie ahead for next season. In part one we’ll start by taking a look at how Brisbane’s season panned out across the various competitions.

August
Brisbane 0-2 Perth (FFA Cup)

FFA+Cup+Round+32+Brisbane+v+Perth+hYkvHeu9q-5x

Brisbane’s cup run ended early once again (Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Brisbane’s 2016-17 season began amongst clouds of uncertainty regarding the clubs ownership as the Roar hosted their first ever game in the FFA Cup against Perth. With just a handful of pre-season tune-up games prior to the Cup clash, Brisbane were looking to go beyond the round of 32 after falling at that stage a year ago against Western Sydney.

Two Dino Djulbic headers from corners in the first 20 minutes however put paid to that plan with the visitors going on to launch their own Cup campaign, while for Brisbane it would prove to be their last competitive game ahead of the season with questions about both the on field and off-field prospects at the forefront of peoples minds.
October
7th– Brisbane 1-1 Melb. Victory
16th– Newcastle 4-0 Brisbane
22nd– Central Coast 0-1 Brisbane
30th– Brisbane 2-1 Perth

The A-League season began on a cool October night at Suncorp Stadium against Melbourne Victory and after a slow start it was more last minute heroics following on the finals series from the season prior, with Luke DeVere scoring a 96th minute equaliser to earn Brisbane a point after Victory winger Mitch Austin opened the scoring midway through the second half.

Week 2 of the season saw Brisbane make their first trip away from home for the season, and much like the year before it was another day to forget with a comprehensive 4-0 loss away from home against Newcastle, with the Roar’s defensive issues away from Suncorp under John Aloisi appearing once again. In a positive sign however, this would prove to be Brisbane’s biggest loss of the League season, and their last away from home until December.

The month was rounded out with back to back wins against Central Coast and Perth Glory, with a Thomas Kristensen goal enough to give Brisbane a first win of the season in Gosford before attacking duo Jamie Maclaren and Brandon Borrello opened their accounts in a 2-1 win at home against the Glory.

November
4th– Brisbane 1-1 Melb. City
11th– Adelaide 1-1 Brisbane
19th– Brisbane 1-1 Sydney
25th– West Sydney 1-1 Brisbane

November started with Tim Cahill making the trip to Brisbane on a Friday night although the long time Socceroos striker was upstaged by his new National Team teammate, with Jamie Maclaren celebrating his call-up with the only goal of the game. The following week on the road saw Brisbane’s unbeaten run extend to four games after off-season signing Brett Holman opening his goal scoring account for the club, with key off-season addition Sergi Guardiola equalising for Adelaide.

Brisbane then returned home for the first clash of the season against Sydney FC and it was the visitors who had the better of the first half, with a combination of a Josh Brillante long range strike in addition to poor passing in the defensive third from the Roar helping the Sky Blues take the lead. A goal from Thomas Kristensen just before halftime levelled the scores before the second half turned into an end to end thriller which both sides could have profited from.

The month ended with an away trip to Western Sydney amid speculation that Jamie Maclaren either had , or would sign with the Wanderers and it was Brisbane’s #9 who opened the scoring from the penalty spot after being brought down by Jerrad Tyson. Jumpei Kusukami wound up equalising for the home side midway through the second half, making it four straight 1-1 draws in the month of November.

December
3rd– Melb. City 1-1 Brisbane 11th– Brisbane 4-0 Adelaide
18th– Central Coast 1-2 Brisbane
23rd– Brisbane 1-1 West Sydney
30th– Sydney 2-0 Brisbane

December started in controversy at AAMI Park in Melbourne, with Jade North going down softly in the build-up to City’s equaliser from Nicholas Colazo, after Jamie Maclaren opened the scoring for the visitors. Next up was Adelaide at home which meant a return to Suncorp Stadium for Brazilian-Australian Henrique, who was making his first trip back to Brisbane as an opposition player. It would prove a day to forget for Henrique however as Brisbane ran riot in a 4-0 win, the fourth of which came from the penalty spot after Henrique was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area. Thomas Kristensen’s brace in this game took his seasonal tally to four goals from six shots, not bad for a defensive midfielder.

League+Rd+10+Brisbane+v+Adelaide+2KEVShpbj3Tx

(Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Brisbane then made it nine games unbeaten with a second win of the season in Gosford against Central Coast Mariners, with Dimitri Petratos and Jamie Maclaren getting on the scoresheet. The pre-Christmas fixture saw Brisbane host the Wanderers and it was a night for spectacular goals as Corey Brown surged forward from left back to score on the half volley, before Dimas Delgado equalised from a free kick on the corner of the 18 yard box.

The final game of 2016 saw the league’s two most in form sides meet in Sydney with unbeaten Sydney FC playing host to the Roar, who had quietly gone about building their own 10 game unbeaten run. Goals from Alex Brosque and Milos Ninkovic snapped that run however, with Brisbane unable to get back into the game despite Brosque’s sending off early in the second half.

January
7th- Brisbane 2-3 Newcastle
13th– Melb. Victory 3-2 Brisbane
21st– Wellington 0-1 Brisbane
28th– Brisbane 2-1 West Sydney
31st– Brisbane 6-0 Global FC (ACL)

2017 began with another defeat after Newcastle Jets made the trip to Suncorp and continued their own excellent record here in Brisbane, picking up a 3-2 win thanks to an 84th minute winner from Morten Nordstrand. Brisbane then took their two game losing streak to Melbourne and left both Jamie Maclaren and Thomas Broich on the bench against the Victory, a game which was eerily similar to 12 months prior as the home side raced to a 3-0 lead after 27 minutes.

Unlike January 2016 however, Brisbane launched something of a fight back with a stunning free-kick  from Dimitri Petratos and an own goal from ex Roar defender James Donachie bringing the score line back to 3-2 by half-time. While there were no additional goals, there was a red card issued to Besart Berisha for striking the face of Luke Devere, a card which was ultimately overturned on appeal. It was also of no use to Brisbane, who once again failed to capitalise on a man advantage for a significant period of time.

With the losing streak now at three games, Brisbane made the trip across the Tasman to take on a Wellington side which had found some form under new coaching duo Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre. In what was an edgy and nervy game, a late goal from Jamie Maclaren was enough to win the game and end the unbeaten run. The final league game of January saw Brisbane pick up another customary late home winner, with Brett Holman’s stoppage time winner on return from injury enough to take the points from the Wanderers.

January concluded with Brisbane’s first incursion into the AFC Champions League for the campaign and although it was considered a formality, Brisbane did pick up the win over Filipino Champions Global FC, with Brandon Borrello scoring four goals in a 6-0 rout. The night is most fondly remembered for debuts to Dane Ingham and Joe Caletti, however sterner tests lay ahead on the continent in order to progress to the Group Stage.

February
3rd– Brisbane 1-1 Sydney
8th– Shanghai 0-2 Brisbane (ACL)
11th– Melb. City 2-2 Brisbane
18th– Perth 2-2 Brisbane
21st Brisbane 0-0 Muanthong (ACL)
26th– Brisbane 1-2 Wellington
28th– Ulsan 6-0 Brisbane (ACL)

February started with the third league clash of the season against Sydney FC, and the game was another thrilling encounter. While there were no goals, there was no shortage of goalmouth action, with goalkeepers Michael Theo and Danny Vukovic the best players on the park.

Attention then turned to an ACL playoff away to mega rich Shanghai Shenhua featuring Carlos Tevez and Obafemi Martins, with a group stage place on offer for the winner. Despite being considered outsiders for the encounter, it was a famous win for Brisbane Roar with wingers Brandon Borrello and Tommy Oar doing the damage in the first half to secure a Group Stage birth for the third time.

With a group stage berth secured, it was back to A-League action as Brisbane fielded rotated sides in away games against both Melbourne City and Perth, with 2-2 draws in both ensuring John Aloisi’ side maintain a top four place ahead of their busy upcoming schedule.

An ACL injury to Daniel Bowles in the dying minutes of the clash against City ended his season prematurely, with Australian born Greek international Avram Papadopoulos drafted in as an injury replacement. A-League action for the month ended with a shock loss at home to Wellington Phoenix , with a lethargic Brisbane punished by a very good Nix performance.

The month however concluded with the start of the ACL Group Stage campaign, which saw Brisbane and Muanthong United play out a 0-0 draw with plenty of chances for both sides. A week later Brisbane made the trip to 2012 Champion Ulsan Hyundai and the South Korean side –who also progressed to the Group Stage via the playoffs-, taught Brisbane a footballing lesson, handing out a 6-0 thumping to John Aloisi’ side.

March
3rd– Newcastle 1-3 Brisbane
14th– Kashima 3-0 Brisbane (ACL)
19th– Adelaide 2-1 Brisbane
25th– Brisbane 1-0 Melb. Victory

March began in the Hunter and it was a much better trip this time around for Brisbane with two goals from Jamie Maclaren and a first senior goal for Nicholas D’Agostino enough to pick up the win after Jets full-back Jason Hoffman was dismissed for two silly yellow card offences barely 60 seconds apart.

After a much needed break due to the A-League split round Brisbane returned to action in the Champions League away to 2016 Club World Cup finalists Kashima Antlers, with the result not much better than the last time away in Asia as the Japanese Champions ran out 3-0 winners.

The following weekend in Adelaide turned into a dramatic one with scores tied in injury time before Michael Theo was judged to have elbowed Reds defender Dylan McGowan. With Brisbane having used all three subs it was left to Thomas Kristensen to don the gloves and try to keep out Sergio Cirio’s spot kick. Kristensen’ efforts were in vein as the home side picked up a rare win in their spluttering title defence, but that wasn’t the end of the drama as Brisbane assistant Ross Aloisi picked up a four game touchline for an incident in the players tunnel with an Adelaide assistant.

March ended with a home clash against a depleted Melbourne Victory who needed the three points to keep their faint Premiership hopes alive, although those hopes were wiped out by a Jamie Maclaren lob as Brisbane’s #9 started to find his goal scoring form once again.

April
2nd– Brisbane 5-1 Central Coast
8th– Perth 3-1 Brisbane
12th– Brisbane 2-1 Kashima (ACL)
16th– Brisbane 4-3 Wellington
21st– Brisbane 1-1 (4-3) West Sydney 26th– Muanthong 3-0 Brisbane (ACL)
30th– Melb. Victory 1-0 Brisbane

April started with a home game against Central Coast which started out in a dull fashion but exploded into live in the second half after the Mariners took the lead. Jamie Maclaren scored the second fastest hat-trick in club history with three goals in eight minutes, before Thomas Broich and Nick D’Agostino rounded out the scoring.

With 3rd spot all but secured for a second straight season heading into the last two weeks of the regular season, John Aloisi took a weakened side to Perth and fielded another rotated side against Wellington in the regular season finale, with a 4-3 win over Wellington enough to absolutely guarantee a third place finish.

All of that rotation was with Matchday 4 of the Champions League in mind, and with Brisbane desperately needing all three points to keep their hopes of progression alive, goals from Jamie Maclaren and Brett Holman were enough to give the Roar their first win at home in the Champions League proper, at the 8th attempt.

The A-League finals began with an Elimination Final at home against Western Sydney and it just wouldn’t be Brisbane Roar if they didn’t have to come from a goal behind. Terry Antonis scored from the spot right on half time to give the Wanderers the lead going into the break, before Brandon Borrello’s shot cannoned back off the post to the onrushing Jamie Maclaren to equalise. That was the end of the scoring and so after an injury to Michael Theo which saw Jamie Young replace him in goals for the Roar, and a red card for Wanderers sub Jaushua Sotirio, the game went to penalties.

In that penalty shootout there were 11 excellent penalties from players on both side before Jamie Young emerged as the hero for the Roar, saving Jumpei Kusukami’ penalty to send Brisbane to the Semi-Finals against Melbourne the following week.

A-League Elimination Final - Brisbane v Western Sydney

Young was the hero in the penalty shooutout (Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Before that however was the not so small matter of Matchday 5 in the ACL, which saw Brisbane field essentially a youth team in their quest for the win which would keep their hopes alive. While that win was ultimately not forthcoming, it was a solid performance on the road by a number of Brisbane’s talented youngsters against a side packed full of Thai internationals. Making matters worse for the Roar was a nasty injury sustained by Jamie Young as he ripped skin off his arm on a rusty goalpost, which put his involvement in the Semi-Final in doubt.

Young would ultimately start that Semi-Final down in Melbourne and while he made his mark with some good saves it was to no avail as a fresh and energised Victory side ran Brisbane off the park, with Besart Berisha scoring the only goal of the game with 20 minutes remaining to send Victory to their fifth Grand Final.

May
10th Brisbane 2-3 Ulsan (ACL)

Brisbane’s season came to a close in May in the days following the A-League Grand Final and with Thomas Broich denied a playing farewell at Suncorp Stadium due to an ankle injury. With nothing riding on the game for either side, both Brisbane and Ulsan turned on attacking intent, with Jamie Maclaren signing off from two stellar years in Brisbane with a brace. It wasn’t enough however as the South Korean visitors took the points to secure third place in Group E.

While there were plenty of success stories along the way throughout the 2016-17 season it was another season of close, but not close enough for John Aloisi side who fell at the same stage in both the A-League and the FFA Cup for a second straight season. The addition of Champions League football added an extra level of difficulty this time around brought an additional challenge and also some great moments, and with another third placed finish there’s the chance to compete in Asia once again next year. With a bit of luck, and some solid recruitment, hopefully John Aloisi and the playing group will handle things as well next year, with some silverware thrown into the mix.

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Season Review Part 7- Miscellany

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a look back at the season that was, the success stories, the disappointments and take a brief look to what may lie ahead for next season. In this final part we’ll look at a few miscellaneous stats, facts and figures from the previous season.

General Stats
Number of players used- 25
Top Goalscorer- Jamie Maclaren (20)
Number of Goalscorers- (11)
Number of Clean Sheets- (8)
Most Clean Sheets- Jamie Young (7)
Most assists- Dimitri Petratos (7)
Hat-tricks- Jamie Maclaren (1)
Fastest Goal- Jamie Maclaren (5’- R22 v West Sydney)
Latest Goal (Normal time) (90+4’- Henrique R12 v Melb. City)
Roar own goals (3)
Most opposition goals- Romeo Castelen (4)
Penalties Scorer- 4
Penalties Conceded- 3
Home form (Regular season) Played 14. W11, L1, D2.
Away form (Regular season) Played 13. W3, L6, D4.
Home points (35) Equal highest in club history (ties 2010-11 season)
Away points (13) Lowest since 2012-13 & second lowest since League expansion.

Appearance milestones
Matt McKay became the first player to play 200 games for Brisbane Roar, while Thomas Broich became just the third to play 150 games for the Roar after McKay and fellow foundation midfielder Massimo Murdocca.

Corey Brown (57), Brandon Borrello (56), and Jamie Young (51) all played their 50th competitive games for Brisbane Roar over the course of the season.

Jack Hingert -99 games- is just one game shy of reaching the century of appearances for Brisbane Roar, while Jade North (88)and Dimitri Petratos (87) are both also likely to reach the milestone in 2016-17.

Luke DeVere (49) and Daniel Bowles (41) are likely to reach the 50 game milestones in 2016-17, while the likes of Corona, Tommy Oar and Jamie Maclaren could also reach the mark provided they stay injury free.

Debutants
Over the course of the season, four players made their senior debuts for Brisbane Roar, with Jamie Maclaren, Corona, Nicholas D’Agostino and Javier Hervas becoming the 112th, 113th, 114th and 115th players to represent the Roar respectively.

Discipline and Injury and National Team
Number of Yellow Cards- 45
Number of players cautioned- 15
Players with the most cautions- Daniel Bowles and Jade North (6)
Number of Red Cards- 1
Number of players sent off- 1
Player with most send offs- Jack Hingert (1)
Players who missed games via suspension (2)-  Shane Stefanutto and Jack Hingert

Number of players who sustained injuries- 12
Player with longest run of injury- Jean Carlos Solórzano (17 games)
Most common injury- Quad- (22 games)
Number of different injuries (15)
Games missed via injury- 73
**Injury stats based on the weekly A-League media squad release

Number of players to miss games due to National Team commitments – 5 (McKay, Brown, Maclaren Borrello and Donachie
Most games missed- Maclaren (4)

W-League
Number of players used- 20
Top Goalscorer- Emily Gielnik (4)
Number of Goalscorers- (8)
Home form (Regular season) Played 6 W2 L4 D0
Away form (Regular season) Played 6 W3 L2 D1
Home points- 6 (Fewest in club history)
Away points- 10

2015-16 debutants
– 9  players made their debut in 2015-16 (Haley Kopmeyer, Summer O’Brien, Malli Forbes, Gabe Marzano, Sofie Persson, Cortnee Vine, Elise Franco, Kristy Yallop, Carrie Simpson). Players number 56-64 respectively.

Milestones
– Clare Polkinghorne -90- and Tameka Butt -86- are closing in on the century and could become just the first and second players to ever play 100 W-League games for the Roar.


Season Review- Part 5 (Coaching)

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

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a look back at the season that was, the success stories, the disappointments and take a brief look to what may lie ahead for next season. Previously we’ve looked at the playing group as a whole, so today we take a look at the coaching staff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Season Review part 4 (squad players)

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a look back at the season that was, the success stories, the disappointments and take a brief look to what may lie ahead for next season. Previously we’ve looked at the season as a whole and the players who were regulars, today we’ll look at a bunch of younger players who rose to prominence in 2015-16.

Shannon Brady
Games– 0 (2)
Goals– 0

Starting with the young winger, who found himself with limited playing time this season at all levels. Brady, 19, and in his first season as a professional footballer has been starved of playing time this season with just the two substitute appearances in the first team -21 total minutes- and just a handful of youth team games. That however goes to a greater point in the apparent breakdown of youth development, something I’ll get to in future weeks.

Looking ahead to next season it’s tough to see how things improve for the natural wide player, with the likes of Thomas Broich, Brandon Borrello and Tommy Oar all established in the matchday squad. The youngster has plenty of potential but he needs game time in some form if he is to realise that in the coming years.

Luke Brattan
Games– 1
Goals– 0

It’s easy to forget, but Luke Brattan did play an –albeit small- part in Brisbane’s 2015-16 campaign, as he played the full 90 minutes in Brisbane’s FFA Cup Round of 32 loss against Western Sydney back in August.

That game would prove to be the home-grown midfielders 112th and final for the Roar, as he exercised his right to void his contract due to the off-field financial dramas which saw player payments fall behind schedule. At the time it appeared that Brattan’s career was on the up, with a National Team call-up resulting in a shock transfer to Premier League side Manchester City. Things didn’t pan out however and Brattan spent the year either training with City’s u-21 side or out on loan at second division side Bolton Wanderers, and as a result he’s fallen down the Socceroos pecking order.

Devante Clut
Games– 0 (9)
Goals– 0

After a breakout season which saw Devante breakthrough as a regular player in the first team, including scoring some key goals late in the season, the 2015-16 season shaped up as a big one for the 20 year old attacking midfielder. Things didn’t pan out that way however, with Clut making just the nine substitute appearances off the bench of 93 minutes of game-time which just isn’t enough for a young player looking to develop his game.

The other big problem for Devante was that because of the new truncated NYL format, his opportunities were limited in that competition as well, with the midfielder playing in only half of the clubs 10 youth games for the season due to his bench duties in the first team.

Due to that lack of first team action, Devante decided to end his two and a half season stint in Brisbane at the conclusion of his contract, opting instead to sign a two year deal with Newcastle Jets. Devante departs Brisbane having scored four goals in 21 appearances.

Nick D’Agostino
Games– 1
Goals– 0

After some solid form in the 2015 NPL Queensland campaign, young striker Nick D’Agostino was given his debut in the round six clash at home to Perth Glory. While the youngster didn’t have any real impact on his starting debut –one shot-, he didn’t look out of place and did enough to suggest with more experience he has something to offer.

Back in the youth team he’s excelled in the past year, with a strong National Youth League campaign being followed up in the current NPL campaign, where he ranks amongst the league’s leading strikers with 10 goals to his name at the halfway mark. With a lack of striking options in the squad currently beyond Jamie Maclaren, D’Agostino figures to be somewhere in the plans for 2016-17, what part he ends up playing is likely to be determined on the recruitment

Luke DeVere
Games– 0
Goals– 0

2016-17 was a write off for the central defender, who made just two appearances in the National Youth League before further injury setbacks brought an early end to his season. The season for DeVere began with a long term quad injury sustained in the post-season game with Villarreal which caused him to miss the first 10 games of the A-League season.

Due to that, DeVere returned to action via the clubs NYL side making two appearances before he was shut down and limited to training duty only, despite the first teams defensive struggles over the second part of the season.

The big question for next season is just what will DeVere be able to bring to the side. At his best, Luke is one of the league’s best defenders and as evidenced by his March 2015 call-up, a fringe National team member. All of the injuries however have to have had a big impact on him as a player however, and it could take time for Luke to return to that level of play. John Aloisi will no doubt be hoping for the best with limited experience in the centre of defence outside of Jade North.

Henrique
Games– 7 (17)
Goals– 8

After ending the previous season with a serious knee injury, Henrique made his return to action in the round five clash with Perth, scoring an emotional winner in what would become one of the best moments of the season.

All up it was another typical Henrique season, where the Brazilian provided a genuine spark off the bench when it was needed with 8 goals and 3 assists created this season. While Henrique doesn’t enjoy the super sub tag, it’s a role that he’s filled exceptionally for the Roar over the last few seasons and this season was no exception with all of his goals coming off the bench helping win 17 points for Brisbane this past season.

After reports first emerged late in the season of a move to South-East Asia to Thailand, Henrique ultimately departed Brisbane to take up a contract in Malaysia with second division side Negri Sembilan.

Javier Hervas
Games – 2 (15)
Goals – 0

After arriving in the week of the season opener against Western Sydney, Javi spent the first six weeks of the new season building up fitness having been without a club over the pre-season, eventually making his debut off the bench in round 6 against Perth.

It was then that Hervas made his most memorable contribution of his time here in Brisbane, with an assist for Henrique with his first touch of the game just seconds after coming on. That lead to some high hopes as Javi continued to build fitness, but it wasn’t until the round 14 trip to Melbourne that he would make his first start.

In that game, Hervas made some early mistakes which resulted in an early lead in Victory’s big win. Following another sub par starting performances the next week against Adelaide, Hervas returned to the bench the next week, and following the late arrival of Tommy Oar, he finished the season outside the matchday squad. Following the end of the season, Javi returned to Europe, signing a deal with Bosnian side FK Zeljeznicar.

George Lambadaridis
Games– 0 (1)
Goals– 0
Having originally departed Brisbane at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season after his contract expired, George returned to Brisbane on an injury replacement contract as cover for Henrique to start the season and despite being in the squad through the early weeks of the season he made just the one appearance, a last minute time wasting substitute against Western Sydney in the opening round.

Once Henrique returned from injury ahead of the round six clash with Perth Glory, Lambadaridis departed Brisbane for a second time and is now playing back in Victoria with Green Gully.

Steven Lustica
Games– 6 (16)
Goals– 1

While being a regular in the matchday squad once again this season, 2015-16 was another season where Lustica was cast in the role of impact sub off the bench, with 16 of his 22 appearances coming via the substitutes bench.

In that role, Lustica was once again solid, bringing extra energy to the midfield late in games to either maintain the result of help chase the game – most notably in the round 10 clash with Wellington-. Ultimately, the lack of regular starting time lead to Steven deciding to depart Brisbane for a second time, opting to take up a one year contract with Western Sydney.

Tommy Oar
Games– 2 (4)
Goals– 0

The 2015-16 season began in the English Championship with Ipswich Town for Tommy after a free transfer move from FC Utrecht in the European summer, however things didn’t work out in the UK with Oar making just nine appearances before agreeing to a mutual termination late in the January transfer window.

After rumours of a move to China and the Middle East, Tommy made a somewhat surprising return to Brisbane on a two and a half year deal as the A-League moved towards the business end of the season.

After a couple of weeks to regain some fitness following period of not playing, Oar made his return to the domestic game in the round 24 away game to Melbourne City. In just a handful of appearances late in the season, Tommy looked lively but failed to have the impact desired on the right hand side in place of Brandon Borrello.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see where Tommy plays in the front third, with John Aloisi having some solid options to choose from in the wide areas. Which two of Borrello, Oar and Broich are the starters, and which side they start on, but that looms as one of the positions to watch when the pre-season campaign begins.

Jerome Polenz
Games– 1
Goals– 0

Due to the form this season of Jack Hingert, Polenz found himself on the outer this season with just the one appearance against Wellington in round three. Brisbane had a reshuffled defence that week due to injuries and international call-ups, and when Shane Stefanutto returned the next week, Polenz found himself out of the side once again.

For the rest of the season, the closest Jerome would get to first team action was a handful of unused substitute appearances, with his only game time coming in a handful of National Youth League appearances.

Going forward, it’s hard to see where Polenz fits into the plans for 2016-17 and beyond due to the emergence of Jack Hingert as a regular in the starting line-up, opportunities figure to be limited once again. With his contract up at the conclusion of next season, it will be interesting to see what happens.

Jean Carlos Solórzano
Games– 2 (5)
Goals– 0

Since returning to Brisbane in January 2014, the one constant which has inhibited Solórzano and last season was no different. A combination of hamstring, foot and thigh injuries saw him miss 17 games due to the trio of injuries, all of which limited him to just the seven appearances in 2015-16.

Following the season, Jean Carlos announced his departure from Brisbane after 62 appearances -18 goals- joining Brisbane Premier League side Rochedale Rovers for the rest of the season to gain some match sharpness in the hopes of attracting a deal elsewhere in the league.

Michael Theo
Games– 9
Clean Sheets– 1

After missing almost the entire 2014-15 season due to injury, the new season continued on in the same vein for Theo, who missed eight games due to his ongoing quad injury. After a pair of games in the Youth League to gain some match sharpness, Theo returned to the first team in the round 16 loss at home to Adelaide.

In the nine games in which Theo played, Brisbane won just the three, conceding 18 goals –including a 4 game stretch with 13 goals conceded- with just the clean sheet. Following a penalty conceded against Western Sydney in round 22, Theo was dropped in favour of Jamie Young for the next weeks clash with Melbourne, and remained on the outer for the remainder of the season.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see if Theo is able to regain his place in goals for Brisbane over the course of the pre-season. With his contract up at the end of the season, and with Jamie Young having just re-signed for two years, it will be interesting to see who John Aloisi opts to go with. Given the improvements this season from Jamie Young, it could well come down to the form and fitness of the current #1.

Abrahim Yango
Games– 0 (1)
Goals– 0

Another player who played a minimal part in the 2015-16 season, Yango came off the bench for a late cameo in the FFA Cup Round of 32 loss to Western Sydney back in August. That was the third and final appearance for Yango here in Brisbane, with the young forward released following the conclusion of the 2015 NPL Queensland season.  Following his departure from the Roar, Abrahim made the move to NPL Victoria joining Avondale for the 2016 season.


Season Review Part 3- Youngsters

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a look back at the season that was, the success stories, the disappointments and take a brief look to what may lie ahead for next season. Previously we’ve looked at the season as a whole and the players who were regulars, today we’ll look at a bunch of younger players who rose to prominence in 2015-16.

Brandon Borrello
Games- 22 (1)
Goals- 5

Starting with a young player who first got his chance in the 2014-15, Brandon Borrello took major steps forward this season as a regular member of the starting line-up.

Despite making the breakthrough with 27 appearances last season and making his mark in the Asian Champions League, it was this season where Borrello cemented himself as a starting member in the side and began to add consistency in his game.

Five goals from 23 appearances is a solid return for player who was a secondary attacking weapon a lot of the season, but it’s also something that he can improve upon with four of his five goals in the opening month of the season and no goals since the round 12 clash with Melbourne City.

That regular starting spot on the right hand spot was his for all bar a month long spell just before Christmas where he was left out for three rounds, and the month of January when his form earned him a call-up to Australia’s AFC u-23 Championships squad.

Brandon’s form over the past 18 months or so has attracted interest of other teams both domestically and in Europe, however he put and end to all of the speculation by agreeing to a two year contract extension in mid February to remain in Brisbane.

The question surrounding Borrello for next season however is what role he will play, with the late season arrival of Tommy Oar raising questions over the wide attacking positions, with Thomas Broich also firmly in the mix to start in one of those roles. We saw that while initially it was Oar to miss out, that changed as the team moved towards the finals before Borrello was re-instated for the Semi-Final loss to Western Sydney. How that situation pans out will be one of the storylines of 2016-17.

Daniel Bowles
Games– 21 (1)
Goals-1

After making a string of solid appearances late in the 2014-15 season due to a heavily congested fixture schedule, where he excelled at the heart of defence, it was expected to be another season where Daniel would be waiting for his chance.

A long term injury to Luke DeVere which ruled him out of the entire season, coupled with Olyroos and injury issues for James Donachie opened up the path for Bowles to start the season in the line-up and he took his chance by playing in the first 16 games of the season.

Statistically Bowles is the second best rated defender in almost all categories, second only to the experienced Jade North who played every minute of the season having his best season in his time with the Roar.

Statistically in comparison with his regular partner Jade North and four players of similar age and playing time in 2015-16 –Matt Jurman (Sydney), Alex Grant (Perth), Jacob Poscoliero (Central Coast) & Jordan Elsey (Adelaide) – Bowles stacks up rather well as the table below shows.

bowles
Looking ahead to next season Bowles looms as an important part of John Aloisi’ plans following the departure of James Donachie and the injury struggles of Luke DeVere, which leaves Bowles as the logical partner for Jade North.

Corey Brown
Games- 13 (2)
Goals- 1

2015-16 was another season where Corey started out as the understudy, but after injures to veteran Shane Stefanutto the opportunity for playing time emerged once again.

Initially when the chance arrived in the opening rounds he was solid in patches but was caught out by the run from Fabio Ferreira against the Central Coast which resulted in a goal. Following that and as a result of the return to fitness of Stefanutto, Brown was on the outer again with his next start not until the round 16 clash with Adelaide.

From round 16, Brown started the next four games playing reasonably well for the most part, but a pair of mistakes against Newcastle including a rather poor handball to concede a penalty, he found himself once again on the outer.

It looked like that was the way things would remain for the rest of the season, but Brown was given a somewhat surprising recall for the round 23 showdown with Melbourne Victory, and in credit to Corey he played arguably his best game for the Roar when he kept the inform Jai Ingham quiet and netted his second goal for the Roar in a 5-0 romp.

That performance ensured his spot in the side for the finals run in and the A-League finals themselves, with a string of solid performances over the final weeks of the season giving encouragement that Corey is ready to step up to the mark as a regular starter.

The attacking side of Corey’s game has always been the strength and the 8 chances created -1 assist- puts him on a par with what Jack Hingert achieved over on the right hand side, and in far less playing time.

The problem for Brown has always been that defensive positioning and decision making, and despite struggling at times in the early weeks of the season he improved considerably as the season went on. 36 interceptions and a tackle success rate of 85% are just marginally below that of Stefanutto for last season.

2016-17 will be a massive year for Corey due to the fact that he will be entering the pre-season as the clubs first choice left full-back, with only youngster Conor O’Toole in his first year as a professional as competition for his place.

The blueprint for Corey should be to look at the way Jack Hingert established himself as a starter in this league, and to attempt to replicate that on the left hand side. If Brown is able to achieve that level of consistency the future of the backline could be in very good shape.

James Donachie
Games- 10 (1)
Goals- 0

This year was an interrupted one for Donachie, who started just the 10 games this campaign, with injury and National Team call-ups playing their part. Injures to both his quad and knee cost him four games each, while he missed the entire month of January due to the Olympic Qualification tournament.

After his return however in round 15, Donachie would start in 9 of the last 13 games of the season, missing only four games due to his aforementioned knee injury.

Performance wise it’s tough to gauge given the small sample size of just nine league starts, but he  had 21 interceptions, 33 clearances, won 58% of his tackles and 56% of his duels, numbers which stack up reasonably similarly to Daniel Bowles , who he was fighting with for playing time.

After it emerged midway through the season that his contract was due to expire 12 months earlier than expected due to a mistake in the paperwork, the attempts to rectify the situation immediately and to extend the deal for an extra year to line it up with the original intended length of the deal.

That however failed to materialise and this week we got conformation that after five seasons and 71 appearances, James was set to depart the Roar. Teams domestically and abroad have already been linked, so it could be a few weeks before we learn of his next destination. Wherever that is, as a home-grown player through the clubs youth set-up I wish him all the best.

Jack Hingert
Games- 29
Goals- 0

2015-16 loomed as a career defining year for Jack and he made the most of his chance this season, playing in 29 of the clubs 30 games leaving the more experienced Jerome Polenz on the outer and missing only the one game due to a red card in round 24.

That run of form and regular football saw Hingert sign a new two year contract extension back in February which will see Jack remain in Brisbane through the 2017-18 season. The key now for Hingert is to kick on and establish himself amongst the league’s best full-backs, so with that in mind here’s how he compares statistically with three players who’ve been in and around the national time in recent years- Jason Geria (Melb. Victory), Tarek Elrich (Adelaide) & Scott Jamieson (West Sydney)-.

hingert

Defensively the numbers stack up well for Jack, with all categories showing he’s very similar with the tackle and aerial duel winning % both right there with the others.

Attack wise the 1543 passes place Hingert 8th in the entire league, while his completion rating is also towards the top. The one area that he could perhaps improve on is the amount of chances created once in the final third, with his tally of 14 chances created and one assist well down on both Jamieson and Elrich.

With the right back spot now seemingly his for the foreseeable future, and his future in Brisbane secure for the next two seasons, the key for Hingert now will be to kick on and become one of the leagues best full-backs.

Jamie Maclaren
Games- 26
Goals- 20

Where would Brisbane have been without Jamie Maclaren? Well, for starters we wouldn’t of been 90 minutes from the Premiership and the Grand Final. When Jamie made to Brisbane in search of more regular playing time, it seemed a mutually beneficial fit, with Maclaren desperate for playing time and Brisbane desperate for a striker to replace Besart Berisha. In the end both got exactly what they were hoping for.

The season started and ended in the exact same way for Maclaren, with goals in the road against Western Sydney, and in between those games in October and April, he emerged as the best Australian striker in the A-League with his 20 goals the most ever scored by a local player in the A-League.

His influence on the side is best outlined by the games he missed in the month of January due to the AFC u-23 Championships. From the time when he was substituted in the 70th  minute of the round 13 clash with Perth, the Roar would only score the one solitary goal in his absence over the next 290 minutes of football; and that was a penalty against Adelaide. Brisbane lost two of the three games without Maclaren, picking up just one point out of nine as they dropped down to third on the table in his absence, and on his first game back following Olyroos duty he re-outlined his importance with a brace in a 3-1 win away to Sydney FC.

Maclaren’s form this season has lead to comparisons with the league’s best strikers, and when you compare him to fellow sharpshooters Besart Berisha and Bruno Fornaroli you can see why with the young striker splitting the difference between the two in every statistical category.

jmac

His stellar run of form eventually proved too compelling for Socceroos boos Ange Postecoglou to ignore, and after overlooking Maclaren for the World Cup Qualifiers against Tajikistan and Jordan, he was called up for the end of season friendlies against England and Greece. While his international debut didn’t go to plan –or as well as it did for the striker making his debut at the other end of the pitch- he showed enough to suggest that with a little more experience there’s some potential to work with.

On the back of his stellar season, there has reportedly been interest from clubs in Europe for Maclaren’s services and his recent international debut is unlikely to dampen that interest. Jamie does however have one season to run on the two year deal he signed back in June last year, so the focus will be on improving upon his performances this season to secure his spot in the national team and to attract further interest. Obviously it would be fantastic if Brisbane were able to secure Maclaren’s services beyond this upcoming season, but that sort of talk will be firmly on the back burner until clubs ownership situation is resolved.

Dimitri Petratos
Games- 26 (4)
Goals-7

After switching from his right winger role under Mike Mulvey to a deeper midfield role in the 2014-15 season, Dimitri made that right hand side of the midfield three role his own this season starting in 26 of the clubs 30 games this season..

Despite a tendency to take a lot of shots -45 for the season-, a return of seven goals for the season is a career high, with only team Golden Boot Jamie Maclaren and Henrique bringing in a higher return. A shots on target ratio of just 15.6% however indicates there’s still room for improvement.

The one area of his game that has improved is the creative side, with a team high seven assists for Brisbane this season. That’s one more than Thomas Broich, whose lead the category for Brisbane ever since his arrival in 2010, and puts Petratos 4th in the league for assists this season behind Kosta Barbarouses, Mark Bridge and runaway winner Aaron Mooy.

That creative influence, which grew as the season went on, will become even more important next season as the team continues to evolve in the front third. With next year a contract year for Petratos –amongst many others- it looms as a big one for the 23 year old. Another solid campaign in 2016-17 could net him a lucrative deal here in the A-League or possibly overseas.

Brisbane’s younger players were always going to play a pivotal role in the success or otherwise of the 2015-16 season, and a large number of them stepped up to the mark. The 20 league goals for Jamie Maclaren was a record for an Australian and put him well and truly on the map in the A-League, while the defensive performances from the likes of Hingert, Bowles and Donachie were important at the other end of the park.

Next time we’ll look at the players who struggled to make an impact in the 2015-16 season.


2015-16 Season Review Part 2- The regulars

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a look back at the season that was, the success stories, the disappointments and take a brief look to what may lie ahead for next season. Last week we looked at the season as a whole, today we’ll look at six players who were ever presents over the course of the season.

Corona
Games- 29
Goals- 2

To start this review, we’ll first look at the player who John Aloisi said would bring the quality to the Brisbane midfield in the post Luke Brattan era. To fill that hole John Aloisi went to Spain and brought back Corona, a vastly experienced midfielder who joined the Roar on a two year contract.

Despite arriving just a couple of weeks before the start of the season and not getting a lot of match practice ahead of the new season, Corona started the season as strongly as anyone and continued that right throughout.

Statistically the Spaniard had a very strong first year in Australia, playing in every League and Finals game and racking up the second most minutes on the field (2,555) in the Brisbane squad. One of the great strengths in his game is his superb passing game, and Corona lead the league in both passes attempted (1,848) with an accuracy of over 80% and that creates the platform for the attacking third.

Going forward, while he struggled to find the back of the net himself, Corona was one of the leaders in terms of chances created, with his 63 chances created making him the leader in that category for Brisbane, and only second in the competition to Aaron Mooy. The area where Corona really excelled in the front third however was with his set pieces, with the majority of his five assists come from free kicks or corners, including most notably for Thomas Broich in the Semi Final against the Victory.

Next season will likely be more of the same for Corona, who will start the season in the midfield role starting the play from deeper positions. Perhaps with an eye to the future, a part of his role next season will be to mentor January recruit Joe Caletti who despite being just 16 is one that is on the radar to potentially move into the first team squad next season.

Thomas Broich
Games- 29 (1)
Goals- 2

This was an interesting season for Brisbane’s marquee man, who seemed to struggle at times for form out wide on the left, but still chipped in with two goals and six assists over the course of the season despite claims that his influence was beginning to wane.

A form slump around the start of the year however coincided with the teams drop in form and the culmination of this was when he was dropped for the first time in his Brisbane career for the round 21 trip to Adelaide, a game in which Brisbane performed poorly resulting in a 3-0 loss and Broich was restored to the starting line-up the next week against Western Sydney.

This season has seen calls that Broich dropped slightly from his previously high level this season, and when you compare with two similar players who play in the same position – Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Diego Castro- the argument begins to make sense.

Over the 2015-16 season Broich created 55 chances (6th in the league), 6 assists (5th in the league), 21 shots on target, 75% pass completion and 62 fouls won, numbers which place him amongst the league’s elite.

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Those numbers compare reasonably favourably and while it’s probably the case that Broich had a better season overall than the Victory winger, he was certainly overshadowed by the Perth marquee who went on to win the award for player of the season.

Despite that however, Thomas Broich is still a magnificent player, and his impact on the side still allowed the likes of Petratos and Corona space to grow into the creative roles in the midfield, and next season should be more of the same. 2016-17.

The one thing that cannot be questioned about Thomas Broich is that he’s a big game player and he proved that once again this season, firstly with the winner against Newcastle in Round 26 to keep the clubs Premiers Plate hopes alive, before the dramatic stoppage time winner against Melbourne in the finals. That goal takes Broich’s finals record to four goals and seven assists from 13 games, and makes him the most influential player in the A-League Finals over the league’s first 11 seasons.

Next season could be an interesting one for Broich, who enters his seventh season with Brisbane and will be out of contract at seasons end. The recent signing of Tommy Oar will provide tremendous competition for that left wing role and it’s possible his role could change next season in order to get the younger player into his natural position. Regardless of where he plays however, Broich will play a massive part in Brisbane’s attacking plans for the 2016-17 season.

Matt McKay
Games- 27
Goals- 2

In a season which has seen him become the first player to play 200 games for the club -205 in all competitions- Matt McKay did what he always does, he was a consistent team player whose work rate eclipsed most others.

Statistically it was another typical Matt McKay season, with the midfielder once again showing the proficiency of his passing game, with his 1568 passes for the season placing him sixth in the league, and only behind Corona and North for Brisbane players. McKay’s 81.3% passing accuracy also places him 6th across the players ranked inside the top ten of overall completed passes.

It’s not just the number of passes or the accuracy of them which need to be taken into account however, it’s the chances that come from them, and on this score McKay also fares rather well. If we remove Aaron Mooy, who is an outlier with 104 chances created, Matt compares rather well with other creative attacking midfielders across the league. The 37 chances that McKay created over the season sees him fall just outside the top 10 in the league–Romeo Castelen is 10th with 45 chances created-, however it sees Matt in third amongst Brisbane players with just Corona (63) and Thomas Broich (55) with more.

The defining moments of the season for McKay came against the same opposition and just six days apart with a couple of chances which drastically changed the fortunes of the season as a whole. After missing a golden chance to secure an early lead in the must win round 27 clash with the Victory, McKay then levelled the scores for Brisbane in the Elimination final barely a minute after Berisha had given the visitors the lead. While it’s far to simplistic to blame the events of Round 27 at the feet of McKay, it was a fantastic moment of retribution for a player whose offered so much, both this season and in years gone by.

A big part of the season for Matt in recent times has been his national team commitments, and again this season he missed three games for Brisbane due to his participation in Australia’s 2018 World Cup Qualification campaign. That campaign has been progressing well, however McKay’s involvement and influence in the squad is beginning to wane, with the likes of Mooy, Rogic and Luongo now seen as ahead of him in the pecking order.

That obliviously would be a disappointment for McKay should this recent trend continue – he was a late addition to the recent WCQ’s vs. Tajikistan and Jordan, before being included in the England game but not the Greece Friendlies- it would be a massive boost to Brisbane to have their captain available for games played on international weekends.

While his national team future is perhaps in some doubt, McKay’s future with Brisbane is in no doubt, with another season as club captain and a key role in the clubs midfield. 2016-17 is a contract year for McKay, whose two year contract which was announced in December 2014, and while it’s a near certainty he will be retained beyond this upcoming year, it could be the final season for which Matt occupies one of the clubs two marquee spots.

Jade North
Games- 30
Goals- 3

As the only player to play every minute of every game this season for Brisbane, the consistency and reliability of Jade this season has been a valuable part of the Roars’ success this season. That consistency has been invaluable for John Aloisi in his first season of management given the lack of experience surrounding North in the backline.

A big part of Brisbane’s play for a number of years now is playing out from the back, and Jade was a big part of that this season 1466 completed passes (88% completion) helping to launch attacks for the Roar. Going forward Jade also chipped in with some crucial goals, including the equaliser in Round 19 against Newcastle.

His primary job however is to defend, here’s his defensive stats for the 2015-16 season:
Tackles- 25 of 31 (80%)
Duels- 96 of 184 (52%)
Aerial Duels- 45 of 86 (52%)
Clearances- 62
Blocks-
26
Interceptions- 90

When comparing those stats to some of the league’s defenders- for this I looked at Dylan McGowan, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Patrick Kisnorbo who all were at the heart of defence in teams who made the top four- North is slightly lower in comparison but is still a similar range, and it can be explained by Brisbane’s more expansive style of play making the defence more open.

After contractual negotiations wrapped up recently resulting in a fresh one year deal keeping Jade in Brisbane, next season looms as more of the same as he continues his role as the leader of the back four. With Daniel Bowles, Kye Rowles and the injury prone Luke DeVere as the options to play alongside him, it will be more important than ever for North to provide consistency and leadership at the heart of Brisbane’s defence.

Shane Stefanutto
Games- 16 (1)
Goals- 0

The season started somewhat strongly for Stef, who played in twelve of the first 15 matches of the season, before a fifth yellow of the campaign saw him miss the round 16 home clash with Adelaide. Niggling injury then kept Shane on the sidelines for a further three rounds, before a return to the side in round 20.

While the plan was no doubt to go out on a high note, and possibly with silverware, things didn’t pan out that way for Stefanutto, with his final appearance of the season coming in the 3-2 win over Western Sydney in round 22. Following that game, in which Stefanutto made a costly slip to allow Castelen in to score the goal which sent the visitors 2-1 in front, Aloisi opted to bring Corey Brown back into the side and his consistent run of form meant that Stefanutto ended his playing career outside the matchday squad.

Things didn’t pan out as hoped, but it’s easy to forget the amount of football Stef played this season, with 17 appearances for the season in all competitions. Statistically it wasn’t the greatest year of his career, however when fit he was still a weapon going forward with 33 crosses and 10 chances created over the course of the season. Defensively, his declining pace was beginning to tell with pacy opponents getting the better of him, however he still won just under 50% of his defensive duels -39 from 79- and 62% of duels in the air – 18 from 29-.

It was all but confirmed by John Aloisi in the days prior to the season, but this was Shane’s final season with the Roar, with the now 36 year old announcing his retirement from professional football in the days following the season. Stefanutto departs the Roar after 138 appearances for the club –sixth most all time- and is just one of 10 players to play 100 games for the club. There is talk that a role in either the clubs football department or front office awaits, which would be a solid appointment and help keep some experience within the club.

Jamie Young
Games- 21
Clean Sheets- 7

Rounding out this part of the review is the goalkeeper who was expected to be the understudy but inside of two seasons has gone on to become the first choice keeper. Despite making 30 appearances in the 2014-15 season and steadily improving his game, Young found himself back on the bench to start the new season with the fit again Michael Theo reclaiming the no.1 shirt. That however would only last for the opening two weeks before yet another injury opened the path again for Young to get a game, and the shot-stopper went on play in the next 13 games.

In that stretch of games Young had some strong performances and was perhaps unlucky to be dropped for the fit again Theo after Brisbane’s 4-0 loss away to the Victory in round 15, with Young keeping five clean sheets in that run, including three successive games. His time out of the side however would prove to be a brief one, with Young reinstated to the starting line-up for the round 23 clash with Victory, and he went on to play the last five league games and both finals.

Those five games were exciting but despite the high scoring nature of the majority of those games, Young kept a further two clean sheets along the way; both of which somewhat ironically came against the Victory.

Statistically this season has been a solid one for Jamie, with his seven clean sheets on the season putting him equal third across the league, tied with Andrew Redmayne and behind Eugene Galekovic (13) & Vedran Janjetovic (8).

Distribution has been a criticism constantly labelled at Young since his arrival in Brisbane, and while it’s still has room for improvement it’s certainly getting there with a 65% pass completion from over 500 attempts this season. That puts him on par with Michael Theo for the season, while the player voted keeper of the year –Adelaide’s Eugene Galekovic- had a passing accuracy of just over 70%.

While distribution has long been the problem, shot stopping has been the big strength that was on show once again this season, with a save to shot ratio of 72% which places him second on this measure, with Galekovic leading the field on 80%.

Due to his strong finish to the season it’s likely that Young will enter the new season as the clubs first choice goalkeeper which signifies progression, however the experience of Theo can never be counted out provided he’s fully healthy and ready to go. Given his newly signed two year contract extension back in February, it’s likely he’ll be given a shot at making the #1 position his own.

The six players mentioned have been some of the key players of Brisbane’s 2015-16 season, and aside from Stefanutto they’ve regularly been amongst the teams top performers. Tomorrow we’ll look at Brisbane’s young players who’ve developed into first team contributors and regulars.


2015-16 Season Review- Part 1 (General Recap)

brisbane-roar-players-ahead-of-their-first-home-game-of-the-season_2d8ku1si91oe1pp2eff7rq4cw

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a look back at the season that was, the success stories, the disappointments and take a brief look to what may lie ahead for next season. Later on we’ll look at different facets of the team and how the squad could be improved for next season, but for today we’ll start with a general overview of the season.

Pre-Season
The pre-season for Brisbane was without question the most traumatic time in the clubs eleven year history, with a host of off-field financial issues threatening to derail the clubs assault on the league for 2015-16.

Without wanting to go through all of the details, we saw the clubs Managing Director, Director of Football, First Team Manager and Assistants all depart early in the off-season, before legal issues surrounding unpaid bills threatened to have the club wound up. There were also monthly concerns surrounding player and staff wages, with the governing body coming very close to stepping in.

With the departures of GM Sean Dobson, Director of Football Ken Stead, Manager Frans Thijssen and his assistants Rado Vidosic and Jeff Hopkins, there were some holes to fill in the clubs senior football department.

David Pourre, who was serving as the clubs Commercial Manager, was appointed interim CEO, while former captain Craig Moore returned to the club in the role of Football Operations Manager. The managers role was rumoured to be filled by Auckland City boss Ramon Tribulietx, however ultimately the clubs board opted for former Melbourne Heart boss John Aloisi, who was appointed in late May. Aloisi brought his brother Ross with him as an assistant, with foundation Queensland Roar defender Karl Dodd joining as Conditioning Coach.

On the park, the off-season saw the departure of a number of players, with Serbian striker Andrija Kaluderovic and on loan midfielder Adam Sarota amongst them. There were none bigger however than Luke Brattan, who departed Brisbane after five seasons and 112 appearances for Manchester City due to the clubs financial dramas.

Coming in the other direction however was young Perth Glory striker Jamie Maclaren, who headed back East in search of regular first team football, while Spanish midfield duo Corona and Javier Hervas also arrived as the season got closer. George Lambadaridis- who was released in May- also returned to Brisbane in a short term injury replacement capacity to start the season.

The clubs 2015 FFA Cup campaign began at the height of the clubs financial crisis with an away tie to Western Sydney in the Round of 32 in mid August, and after a strong first half showing Gol Gol Mebrahtu won the game for the home side, ending the Roars second FFA Cup campaign at the first hurdle.

Elsewhere in the pre-season Brisbane had hit outs against likes of Melbourne Victory, Newcastle and Central Coast Mariners, with a win, draw and loss coming from the three games. The highlight of the pre-season however came right at the start with a glamour friendly against EPL side Liverpool, and after taking the lead thanks to Dimitri Petratos, the visiting English side fought back to secure a 2-1 Victory.

October
8th– Western Sydney Wanderers 1-3 Brisbane Roar
18th– Brisbane Roar 2-1 Central Coast Mariners
24th– Wellington Phoenix 3-2 Brisbane Roar
31st Brisbane Roar 3-0 Adelaide United

Brisbane’s 2015-16 season started with an away game to Western Sydney Wanderers, who were looking to rebuild following a tough season, but it was the Roar who got off to the perfect start with a brace from Jamie Maclaren and a third to Daniel Bowles giving Brisbane the first three points of the season.

Following a first home win of the season against Central Coast thanks to a Brandon Borrello brace, Brisbane travelled to Wellington and suffered their first loss of the season after falling on the wrong side of a five goal game. The month was rounded out with a comprehensive home win over a disjointed Adelaide side, which saw Brisbane sit top of the league following the opening month of the season.

November
6th– Sydney FC 0-0 Brisbane Roar
15th– Brisbane Roar 1-0 Perth Glory
20th– Brisbane Roar 1-1 Melbourne City
28th– Newcastle Jets 1-1 Brisbane Roar

November started with another trip to Sydney, this time to the Sky Blue half of the City with a 0-0 stalemate played out between two sides who took a cautious approach to the clash. The following weeks saw arguably the most heart-warming moment of the season from a Brisbane perspective, with Henrique returning from an eight month injury with a crucial winner from the substitutes bench.

The next week, Henrique repeated the trick against City in John Aloisi’ first clash against his former club to help secure a point in what would be Brisbane’s final home game for over a month with a five game road trip on the horizon. That road trip began with a trip to Newcastle, where Brisbane dropped two points after taking the lead against the Jets.

December
5th– Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 Brisbane Roar
12th– Brisbane Roar 2-1 Wellington Phoenix
20th– Central Coast Mariners 0-1 Brisbane Roar
27th Brisbane Roar 3-1 Melbourne City

December saw Brisbane start the month for the third successive time in the Harbour City with a trip to Parramatta amidst fan unrest, however unlike round one this time the Wanderers took the points thanks to a Mitch Nichols strike.

The following week saw one of the highlights of the season, which saw football head to Cairns for the first time though regional round clash against Wellington Phoenix. The weekend was from all reports a big success, with a strong crowd turning out to see the Roar come from behind to secure a 2-1 win.

Brisbane’s month long road trip was rounded out with a 1-0 win on the Central Coast, before returning to Suncorp Stadium for another clash with Melbourne City. In front of strong holiday crowd, Brisbane turned on the style to run out winners 3-1, with the third a long range effort from Henrique after City went for broke at a corner.

January
2nd– Brisbane Roar 2-1 Perth Glory
10th– Wellington Phoenix 0-0 Brisbane Roar
15th– Melbourne Victory 4-0 Brisbane Roar
22nd– Brisbane Roar 1-4 Adelaide United
30th– Sydney FC 1-3 Brisbane Roar

January began with another home win, this time over Perth Glory, however following this game young trio James Donachie, Brandon Borrello and Jamie Maclaren headed off to the Australian u-23 squad for the AFC u-23 Championships, missing the next three games. The next week saw Brisbane head across the Tasman, playing out a scoreless draw, despite having a penalty awarded and then taken away.

Next up was a first meeting of the season with defending champions Melbourne Victory, and after Brisbane seemingly suffered a dose of stage fright, the home side jumped out to a 2-0 lead inside the opening 10 minutes before running away 4-0 winners on the night. The next week, Brisbane suffered their first loss of the season at home with a 4-1 loss at home to Adelaide United.

The month rounded out with a trip to Sydney, and returning Olyroo Jamie Maclaren showed how much he was missed, scoring a brace in a 3-1 win. In the Olyroo trio’s absence, Brisbane scored just one goal –a dubious Henrique penalty- in roughly 300 minutes of game time.

February
6th– Brisbane Roar 4-0 Central Coast Mariners
12th– Brisbane Roar 2-2 Newcastle Jets
20th– Perth Glory 6-3 Brisbane Roar
27th– Adelaide United 3-0 Brisbane Roar

February started with a pair of home games against Central Coast and Newcastle, the first of which was a strong showing against the Mariners. The next week however saw Brisbane drop crucial points for the second time this season against the Jets, with defensive frailties again beginning to show their heads.

If defensive frailties were on evidence in the Newcastle game, they most certainly were on show in the next two weeks where Brisbane conceded a whopping nine goals. First up in the West Brisbane were hit for six by Perth Glory where defending at set pieces was thoroughly exposed, before going to Adelaide the next week and putting in a poor showing in a 3-0 defeat. Those back to back defeats saw Brisbane head into the final six rounds of the competition in a season low position of 4th.

March
4th– Brisbane Roar 3-2 Western Sydney Wanderers
12th– Brisbane Roar 5-0 Melbourne Victory
18th– Melbourne City 3-1 Brisbane Roar
26th– Brisbane Roar 3-2 Sydney FC

Massive March as it was dubbed began with the first of three high profile home matches against Western Sydney, and it became the start of what would become a run of miraculous late fight backs, with Dimitri Petratos rounding out the turn around following a Maclaren brace. The next week however there was no need for any late goals, with a Jamie Maclaren hat-trick setting up a massive 5-0 win over Melbourne Victory.

Brisbane then travelled to Melbourne for a top of the table clash with City, and after Dimitri Petratos gave the visitors the league, Jack Hingert picked up the Roar’s first –and only- red card of the season. City then pounced on the undermanned Brisbane side, running out 3-1 winners.

The next week threatened to see Brisbane’s Premiership hopes end completely when Sydney FC fought back to grab an equaliser in the 87th minute. That however only set the stage for super sub Henrique to secure the points straight from the kick-off to secure all three points.

April
3rd– Brisbane Roar 2-1 Newcastle Jets
9th– Melbourne Victory 0-0 Brisbane Roar
15th– Brisbane Roar 2-1 Melbourne Victory
24th– Western Sydney Wanderers 5-4 Brisbane Roar

The final month of the season saw Brisbane play the final home game of the regular season, and after conceding a penalty which threatened to derail the clubs top two hopes, Brisbane scored two goals in seven minutes, with the winner from Thomas Broich his first of the season, sending the Roar to the top of the table with just one road remaining.

After Adelaide went top the night before, Brisbane needed a win against the Victory away from home in the final round, and despite putting on one of their best road performances of the season, they couldn’t find a way through a resolute Victory side. That draw saw Brisbane end the regular season in third place, one point behind Premiers Adelaide, and behind second placed Western Sydney on goal difference.

That meant that Brisbane’s finals campaign began at home with a second straight clash against the Victory in what was billed as something of a revenge bout following the events of the previous week. The game itself was another classic, with Besart Berisha giving the visitors the lead inside the final five minutes, and just minutes after Jason Geria was sent off. This was however to prove to be the start of another late come back, with Matt McKay scoring barely a minute later to level the scores, before a 94t minute winner from Thomas Broich sent Brisbane through to the Semi-Finals.

That Semi-Final would be against the Wanderers, making this the fifth time the two sides met throughout the year, and the away side got off to a scarcely believable start with the Roar running out to a 3-0 lead after just 23 minutes. That would however prove to be a false dawn with Romeo Castelen leading the fight back for the home side, with his hat-trick helping to vault the Wanderers to a 4-3 lead. Jamie Maclaren then equalised for the Roar to send the game into extra time, before Dario Vidosic won the game for the home side, sending them to Adelaide for the Grand Final and ending the Roar’s season.

While the season ultimately ended with near misses and disappointed in both the Premiers Plate race and the Finals Series, it was remarkable that the club got so close to success given the turmoil of the off-season. All up while the season threatened to be a write off, we were treated to some fantastic moments and the Roar now head into the off-season in a position to build on the season and plan for another run at Silverware next season.