Brisbane Roar are a gift for the A-League

Rusty0256 Roar Rookie

By Rusty0256, Rusty0256 is a Roar Rookie

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    Put quite simply, Ange Postecoglou’s Brisbane Roar is hands down the greatest domestic footballing side Australia has ever seen.

    In every measurable way the Roar has over the past 18 months achieved a level of excellence that has taken it two or even three levels above every other past or present A-League club.

    Whilst we are not privy to what surely must be a quite layered and complex series of coaching principles and methodologies, the results that we are seeing every week out on the park, speak for themselves.

    Those qualities that stand Brisbane Roar apart from every other team include the following:-

    a) A total commitment to play out from the back. Even under the tightest of pressure keeper Michael Theoklitos never boots the ball long; apart from actual saves, he acts as more of a goalkeeping sweeper always seeking out with accurate throws and passes, defensive players running into space.

    And then as we see in almost every facet of Roar’s play, there are almost always multiple passing options for the receiver to then choose to pass onto.

    b) An incredibly high level of one and two touch passing skills. This team has been drilled and drilled and drilled to play this way. The two deceptive qualities in Brisbane’s play is they seem to have so much time on the ball and the potential receivers of the next pass appear to have so much space to work in.

    Brisbane has achieved something of a football Nirvana where complex strategies are played out using speed of movement, creation of space (and therein options) and precision of passing, each underpinned by supreme fitness. It has already been said by newly signed players that Ange tells them it may take six to twelve months for them to become fully integrated into their style of play, such is the level of understanding and intensity required.

    c) Following on from the previous point, there can surely be no fitter team than Brisbane. The longer the game goes on, the better Brisbane gets and this must surely be testament to training that focuses almost entirely (according to Ange) on fitness achieved with the ball.

    Whatever that actually means in training terms, the result is a team of players that not only to have incredible lung-busting aerobic capabilities but do so whilst maintaining something like an incredible 92.7% passing accuracy.

    d) A ferocious will to win back any lost ball. It is again the level of fitness, combined with strategies drummed into the players that ensures that every turnover is met with almost instantaneous challenges, defending at all times from front to back. Opposition players are typically starved of time and space.

    e) Ange has taught his squad of players a system that is greater than its sum player parts; that is, a team that is not reliant on specific individuals.

    In virtually every previous A-League champion team, that team was heavily reliant on a few quality individuals. If those individuals were injured or transferred that team would typically lose its competitive advantage. Brisbane has already shown it has the ability to change the names but not its game.

    f) An ability to keep re-setting playing and tactical benchmarks. One of Ange Postecoglou’s most fascinating proclamations made during the off-season was (and excuse me if a paraphrase) to take Roar to a new level of playing excellence, to exceed the achievements of the Roar’s Championship year, to in effect, move the goalposts even further away from the chasing opposition.

    Everything that we have seen in these opening rounds of the 2011/2012 A-league season should serve to confirm that these proclamations, far from being wishful thinking, were expertly planned and executed realities.

    g) A commitment to stay the distance; to set Brisbane Roar up as a dynasty team; one capable of ruling the A-League over time and taking on and beating the best in Asia. Other teams have aspired similarly but Postecoglou, especially through the methods described in all the previous points, seems to have created the ideal process to actually achieve it.

    It is these last two points in particular that should serve to both inspire and frighten the chasing pack of teams. For those coaches and teams willing to grasp the nettle and take up the challenge some very hard decisions need to be made.

    Quite simply the old A-League methods of hiring a decent local or affordable overseas coach, buying in a couple of star imports, mix in a collection of quality domestic players and hope it all gels (and then if it doesn’t work out, get a new coach and shuffle the player mix for next year), will no longer work.

    In 2010 and especially in 2011, when facing Brisbane Roar, too many A-league coaches are being caught bringing a knife to a gun fight.

    It was Albert Einstein who said that “problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” A-League coaches are largely trying to defeat Brisbane Roar using methods that are more strategic than structural.

    High pressing is the A-League’s ‘new black’. Several teams have already attempted and failed to stay with the Roar using variations of the high press. The fact is that the Roar utilizes the high press better than anyone because it is one of the building blocks of the team. It isn’t a single strategy but rather just another intrinsic part the Roar’s rich footballing tapestry.

    So is Brisbane Roar domestically beatable? Of course. Sooner or later someone is going to be able to pick the Roar’s lock for long enough to break their unbeaten run. It may happen (hopefully) next week but it might not happen for a year.

    However whenever this extraordinary unbeaten run comes to an end, the real question to be asked of the winning coach and team is, could they genuinely expect to do it again?

    Postecoglou’s Brisbane Roar has given Australian Football an extraordinary opportunity; to learn from what it has done. Ange took over the Brisbane Roar, pulled it to pieces and then re-built it into something completely different; a ground up roots and branches change of philosophy, intent and application. Unlike all other A-League teams the Roar does not adjust itself tactically and strategically to whom it plays. It plays the way it plays and others find themselves having to adjust to it.

    Football coaches are stubborn and like to believe they are right. However I would imagine it will not take many thrashings like we saw last Friday night for them to see that they must start thinking (as Ange Postecoglou clearly did) outside the boxes they know so well. Does this mean we want or will get nine other Brisbane Roar clones? I don’t think so.

    However what it should mean is that coaches (and the managements that employ them) will start to change their philosophies in how their teams are built, how they play and how higher levels of application can be sustained over time.

    It will take time; it may take years but as sure as the sun rises in the morning and Brisbane Roar continues to win games and probably championships, it most assuredly will happen. For those of us who do not support Roar, it may be a slow and painful journey but it is one we are going to bear because the standard of our domestic football will surely improve out of sight.

    Brisbane Roar has given us the gift we needed to get.

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    The Crowd Says (51)

    • October 31st 2011 @ 8:06am
      Betty B said | October 31st 2011 @ 8:06am | ! Report

      So nice to read this Rusty. The Roar have made me a football and HAL fan, and that’s surely what the league needs of every club. Though I haven’t been to a game this year yet, I like how they respect and encourge their fans, joiing them after games and acknowledging their support. It’s a point you could add to your list, but I guess until our crowds improve it can wait. We could also do with a bit more local media coverage.

    • October 31st 2011 @ 8:09am
      CrossIT said | October 31st 2011 @ 8:09am | ! Report

      Fantastic team, brilliant to watch, VIVA Football.

    • October 31st 2011 @ 8:30am
      jamesb said | October 31st 2011 @ 8:30am | ! Report


      fantastic article, well done

      i certainly want to save this article because you gave a comprehensive description of how Brisbane Roar play.

      For mine Ange Postecoglou is the most influential person in the A-League ATM. He may not get the headlines like Kewell or Emerton, but his training methods have certainly put Brisbane Roar way out in front.

      I hope Brisbane continue to play well. Its not such a bad thing if Brisbane go back to back and also do well in asia. I hope more importantly the other coaches from other A-League clubs change their methods and therefore raise the bar and standard in their teams.

      If that happens, the A-League will become a strong and exciting competition.

    • Roar Guru

      October 31st 2011 @ 8:57am
      Rellum said | October 31st 2011 @ 8:57am | ! Report

      Lets clear one thing up, Ange Postecoglou is the gift to the A-League. The way he has bettered himself is a credit to him. The Roar would be boarding on extinction without him.

      One thing I would say about the pressing and the fitness required is that Brisbane value the possession of the ball so highly that they spend very little time chasing the ball. And anyone who has played piggy in the middle should know who does the most running out of those with or without the ball. My point, the Roar don’t spend as much energy as the opposition when they have the ball, and that is a lot of the time.

      • October 31st 2011 @ 9:28am
        Matt F said | October 31st 2011 @ 9:28am | ! Report

        That’s a good point. It’s not that they are that much naturally fitter then the other sides, but the possession style that they play forces the opposition to use a lot more energy. This will be even more effective as we enter summer.

      • October 31st 2011 @ 9:32am
        Rusty0256 said | October 31st 2011 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        Well said Rellum. So often over the weekend we watched players in everywhere other than Brisbane expending energy chasing down poorly placed passes. Who knows, maybe Brisbane players are not much fitter than their other A-League contemporaries but the net result is Brisbane use there available energies more effectively and efficiently.

        In my view this is all part of what must eventually be a significant paradigm shift in the way our coaches go about building and running a successful A-League team.

        • October 31st 2011 @ 12:23pm
          Futbanous said | October 31st 2011 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

          First clearly noticed this when Adelaide played in the ACL,particularly against Gamba Osaka.

        • Roar Guru

          October 31st 2011 @ 1:55pm
          Rellum said | October 31st 2011 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

          I would say that the Roar are still the fittest team in the league, and the way they approach training means they get fitter as the season goes on, where other teams get jaded and run out of steam.

    • October 31st 2011 @ 9:36am
      Matt F said | October 31st 2011 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      They are the best thing that has happened to the A-League for a long time. They play a style that’s not only extremely effective but also fantastic to watch and their recruiting has been first class. Rather then get high-profile players and try to work a system around them, Ange has devised a brilliant system and recruuits players that best fit the roles. Very few of the players were household names when they came to the Roar, many sadly still aren’t, but they’re miles ahead of everyone else.

      When Adelaide took the lead on Friday I thought that this would be a great test for the Roar and see how they respond playing catch up. They sure passed that test!

      It’s a real shame that the people of Brisbane won’t go and watch them as they’d be in for a real treat. Maybe the 7-1 win will finally get them some headlines and capture the interest of the general public.

    • Roar Guru

      October 31st 2011 @ 9:47am
      Fussball ist unser leben said | October 31st 2011 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      Impressive detailed analysis, Rusty0256 – well done!

      Brisbane are very pretty to watch but, for me, all credit goes to Ange. How he manages to just keep slotting new players into the system is truly remarkable.

      One additional point that really strikes me about Brisbane – not just this season, but also last season – is their 100% commitment to the team ethic.

      Brisbane is an incredibly unselfish team. Players always are looking to set up their team mate – for a pass or shot on goal – if they are in a better position. You’ll hardly ever see a Brisbane player selfishly put his head down and try to dribble past multiple defenders b/c they understand it’s much simpler, quicker and more efficient to simply pass the ball on to a team mate than try to run the same distance with the ball.

      This is a complete contrast to my team who, until the 2nd half against the Nix, have displayed some of the most selfish football I’ve ever seen in the HAL.

      • October 31st 2011 @ 10:34am
        David V. said | October 31st 2011 @ 10:34am | ! Report

        It’s because Ange seems to have tried to emulate either the “Liverpool Way” (their teams of the 70s and 80s were system-over-individual/short passing/like-for-like replacement aided by their famous Bootroom), or he’s attempted to emulate the Nottingham Forest of Brian Clough, or tried to be like the Ajax and Feyenoord teams of the early 70s which slaughtered teams at home, or Hibs in the same era which could do the same. Take your pick.

        • October 31st 2011 @ 10:49am
          Hamish Alcorn said | October 31st 2011 @ 10:49am | ! Report

          He’s trying to be like Barcelona, very clearly. I suspect he practices an ongoing, close study of Barcelona.

          The real fairytale ending of all this, in the dreaming of this Roar fan, is making the finals of the ACL and having to face off Barcelona at some point in the Club World Cup. Student meets sensei. Sensei, of course, with much better players, would give the student a swift beating, but not without respect.

          • Roar Guru

            October 31st 2011 @ 10:55am
            Fussball ist unser leben said | October 31st 2011 @ 10:55am | ! Report

            @ Hamish Alcorn

            I don’t agree with the Barcelona tag.

            Whilst I enjoy watching Barca play, I feel they overcomplicate the passing. It works well for Barca b/c they have “the best of the best” in their team.

            To me, the Roar are much more direct in their movement of the ball with players creating simple and obvious passing options – much more like the current German NT (and, hopefully, what we’re aiming for with the AUS NT).

            I also agree with David V. – the Roar’s system and movement reminds me of the Liverpool sides of the late-70s; although, that was 30+ years ago and my memory isn’t what it used to be!

            • October 31st 2011 @ 11:08am
              Midfielder said | October 31st 2011 @ 11:08am | ! Report


              Call it whatever you want but the Liverpool side of the 880’s is still my fav team I have seen play … maybe because Craig J was there as well..

              • October 31st 2011 @ 11:14am
                Savvas Tzionis said | October 31st 2011 @ 11:14am | ! Report

                In hindsight, they were brililant to watch but being the good socilaist that I am, and wanting the trophies shared around, I hated them!!!

                Nowadays, that element of my ‘socialist’ tendency is not really as relevant, so whoever plays the best football, gets my vote.

                In Australia, that is Brisbane by far.

            • October 31st 2011 @ 11:11am
              Hamish Alcorn said | October 31st 2011 @ 11:11am | ! Report

              My ignorance of the other teams you mention means that I’ll have to take that on board. Thanks. Ange hasn’t stopped pushing the system however, and the passing isn’t getting any less complex. I’m sure you’re right though that Barca’s players being who they are are capable of being much more ambitious. But they’ve been at it for much longer, with a deep culture in place. And that’s what we really hope the Brisbane Roar can achieve.

            • October 31st 2011 @ 2:29pm
              David V. said | October 31st 2011 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

              As an Everton supporter our most successful teams have always played a similar style to that described, we’ve never had much success being anything else.

              Clough always had his share of rather slow players at Forest- John Robertson and Ian Woan for wingers over the years, Neil Webb and Garry Parker for playmakers, none of those fitting the desription of speed merchants! But even after Clough left and Frank Clark took over, the last decent Forest team with Roy, Collymore and Bohinen played the same way and could be magical. When they got a good run going, it was like what you saw on Friday…

            • October 31st 2011 @ 4:34pm
              BES said | October 31st 2011 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

              Cant believe I am about to type this but: “Fussball – I agree with you on this one” (excuse me while I take a quick break and wash the nasty taste out of my mouth 🙂 As a Brisbane die-hard supporter I have rolled around the floor laughing at your – and soooooo many other MV supporters increasingly desparate attempts in recent times to find SOME way to continue to hold MV up as somehow superior to Brisbane….

              But in this point re Brisbane vs Barcelona I agree completely. Spain at the most recent World Cup BORED ME TO DEATH! It was anti-football in the extreem. I would hazaad a greater reason for non-footballing people to be turned off the game than diving. I thoroughly agree that Brisbanes style is much more reminicient of the fabulous German national team. Why take 57 passes to get nowhere when with 3-4 (on the ground with stunning accuracy and pace) you can have it in the net at the other end. I have watched mindless minutes of Spains supposed ticca-taaca (what a stupid name!) on youtube and watched endless 20-25 pass sequences and then gues what, how many of them actually end in a goal or even a shot on goal? Pretty close to nil. How many goals did Spain actually manage to score at the WC? 7 was it? That would have to be the lowest return from any winning team in history. Spains ticca-taaca in other words, is a greater blight on the game than the Italian cattenaca (or however it is spelt). It is fundamentally a defensive tactic that bores the opposition to death until they lose concentration and (possibly) concede a goal.

              So long live the briliant Brisbane. and Fussbal, You got one right afterall…. 😉

          • October 31st 2011 @ 12:30pm
            CrossIT said | October 31st 2011 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

            Good point, and I am very much looking forward to see how the Roar fair in Asia. They play a brilliant style of football but it will be interesting to see how the well drilled discipline sides of Korea and Japan go about breaking down that freedom of movement the Roar create. You would suspect they would play a high tempo man on man game, as I doubt many of those teams would fear the Roar and park a bus so to speak, but if they can’t run with the boys from Brisbane for the full 90, then look out.

      • October 31st 2011 @ 6:15pm
        Simon Boegheim said | October 31st 2011 @ 6:15pm | ! Report

        Goodness! Fussball! Third article today, but a very objective and well written post.

        You have gone up another level in my esteem. Keep up the good work.

        By the way, Saturday night is going to be an absolute humdinger and the atmosphere at Etihad is going to be incredible. There is no denying that MVFC attract the best crowds, but Brisbane will improve. We certainly did very well towards the end of last season and I am sure that we have matched you with the GF, or close to it anyway. Good things come to those who wait, like you are doing with Victory’s performance. You are confident MVFC’s on field performance will improve and I am certain that the Roar will do that off-field.

        Have a good one.

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