A-League Season Preview: Brisbane Roar – setting sights on the title
Former Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar coach Ange Postecoglou, now coaching the Socceroos. AAP Image/Dan Peled
Is it a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same for defending A-League champions Brisbane Roar?
The Recap – Brisbane Roar
Playoffs: beat Central Coast 5-2 (agg), beat Perth Glory 2-1
New coach but very much the same system is the mantra being chanted down Suncorp Stadium way as Brisbane Roar aim to make it three A-League titles in a row.
Ange Postecoglou may have decamped to Melbourne Victory but Roar fans and officials don’t appear too concerned, with former assistant Rado Vidosic coming to the fore as the club’s new head coach.
Vidosic’s promotion is much in keeping with the Roar’s ethos under Postecoglou – there’s no change for change’s sake when the goal is a long-term one.
To that end the Roar have quietly gone about re-signing some of their key players rather than investing in new ones, though when one of those key players is Thomas Broich, it’s an understandable decision.
Broich joined skipper Matt Smith, veteran defender Shane Stefanutto, fellow defender Ivan Franjic, goalkeeper Michael Theo – yes, it does seem unusual to write that – and Brazilian midfielder Henrique in penning new deals during the off-season.
Their retention means new faces are few and far between, though the addition of ex-Gold Coast youngster Ben Halloran could prove a masterstroke, with the 20-year-old very much the kind of pacy attacking talent favoured during Postecoglou’s reign.
The Roar have also shown themselves one of the few clubs willing to consistently dip into the Asian market, so it was no real surprise to see the Bakrie-owned club sign South Korean youngster Do Dong-Hyun and Japanese defender Yuji Takahashi.
Neither are established names in their homeland but both will bring a refined technique and a healthy dose of competition to the squad.
Otherwise the Roar look set to rely on last year’s stars to try and drive them to glory this time around.
In name-shortener Michael Theo the Roar possess one of the more reliable goalkeepers in the league, even if he is prone to making the odd rash decision in games.
The defence has been shorn of former Bahrain international Sayed Adnan – though some would say he too was error-prone last season – but the addition of Takahashi and Young Socceroos defender James Donachie suggests the Roar have plenty of cover in that department.
And while in midfield the re-signing of playmaker Broich is clearly pivotal, the Roar have also done well to also retain the services of the perpetually busy Henrique.
He’s not always accurate in front of goal and team-mates Broich and Besart Berisha tend to take much of the limelight, but the Brazilian’s trickery and ability to exploit space make him one of Brisbane’s most dangerous attacking players.
He’s not quite as influential as Berisha though, and last season the Albanian striker took A-League goal scoring to new heights.
His ability to lose his marker and find space is unmatched in the competition and given Berisha’s feisty demeanour, he’s more likely to find motivation in the jeers of away fans than be troubled by them.
If Berisha can pick up where he left off last season, the Roar should rightly be considered favourites to win the league.
And given that they’re one of the fittest teams in the competition, they’re also more likely to race out of the gates and pick up early points than some of their opponents.
Not much has changed then, despite the departure of a two-time championship winning coach.
Brisbane Roar remain the benchmark in the A-League and it will take a sizeable turn of events to prise the coveted ‘toilet seat’ from their grasp.
In: Yuji Takahashi (Kyoto Sanga, Japan), Do Dong-Hyun (Boin High School, South Korea), Ben Halloran (Gold Coast United), Matt Acton (promoted from youth team).
Out: Sayed Adnan (Al Arabi, Qatar), Kofi Danning (CS Vise, Belgium), Andrew Redmayne (Melbourne Heart), Issey Nakajima-Farran (AEK Larnaca, Cyprus), Matt Mundy (Rochedale Rovers).
Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he has settled in Brisbane and has been a Roar columnist since December 2008. Follow Mike on twitter @Mike_Tuckerman
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