Whichever way you look at it, Tommy Oar’s move to Brisbane Roar for the rest of the season and beyond is only full of positives.
Following the Tim Cahill controversy, the A-League has been handed a massive vote of confidence from one of the Socceroos’ less-heralded stars – not that fans require such a show of support – and secures a quality player at the same time.
Oar’s introduction into an A-League season that has been high quality on the pitch and highly competitive on the ladder is an extra course for Australian fans to feast on.
Oar will strengthen John Aloisi’s quest for a premiership-championship double, which continues with a clutch clash against Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday, and his name should coax some stay-away fans into Suncorp Stadium.
While not exactly a household name a la Cahill, Oar’s quality is undoubted.
Still just 24, the winger-cum-central midfielder forged out a successful career in Holland over five years with FC Utrecht, making more than 100 appearances and often appearing at the top of the Eredivisie assists charts.
While some may lament one of our Socceroos returning to Australia so early in his career, it appears a necessary step to ensure Oar remains on track for both the national team and his personal wellbeing – it did wonders for Aaron Mooy’s development, albeit a bit earlier in his career.
Oar is still talented enough to compete in the upper tiers of Europe, yet the past year cannot have been easy for the Gold Coast product.
The backend of his stay with Utrecht took an unfortunate turn last season, after Oar openly rejected a new contract, intent on pushing himself up to a new level. He was largely frozen out of the club, spending large spells on the sidelines as Utrecht preferred to give game time to players sticking around.
It was less than ideal, but the hope was that Oar would secure a move to a more high-profile club and take the next step in his career.
Rumours of a transfer to Ajax fell through, as did a bizarre, but confirmed, possibility of turning out for Athletic Bilbao, thanks to an obscure bloodline linking Oar to the Basque region.
Oar unfortunately remained uncontracted until late August – therefore missing a pre-season, and training in isolation – when he signed a two-year deal with Championship side Ipswich Town. Yet his time in Suffolk never took off as he made just four starts.
Oar ended his stay with Ipswich by mutual consent last month, citing home sickness.
“It’s a great club and the manager, staff and players made me feel very welcome but while I have enjoyed playing for Ipswich, I have found it difficult to settle into life in England,” Oar said.
“I have been away from home for five or six years now. My family came over at Christmas and maybe I’ve got to a point where I want to be closer to home again.
“It’s just one of those things where moving over here as not worked out as I had hoped but I’d like to wish the club, the manager, the staff and the players the best of luck over the rest of the season and I hope to be watching Ipswich in the Premier League next year.”
Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy wanted him to stay, but credit to the club for allowing him to get back into a comfortable environment. And cynics who questioned his motives, suggesting he would chase dollars in the Middle East or Asia, have been proven wrong.
Some may question Oar’s lack of mental fortitude, yet these are likely people that have never taken a career plunge like he did at the age of 18 moving to a foreign country. It is more than understandable that feelings of homesickness would start to creep into a young man’s head after a turbulent year of uncertainty.
Regardless, Oar is in Australia, and it should be celebrated.
As mentioned he is still only 24, and this is likely a brief sojourn back home to recharge, see the family and friends he was obviously missing, and perhaps kick on back in Europe again after a few seasons. If he decides to see out his career in the A-League, good for him, living away from home for prolonged periods is not for everyone.
Aloisi and Brisbane, meanwhile, are the next big winners after Oar. They have picked up a very handy player who can help the Roar push for silverware. Oar is predominantly known as a winger in A-League and Socceroos circles, but much of his time at Utrecht was also spent in central midfield.
At a club level, his combination with Matt McKay and Thomas Broich will be intriguing for Roar supporters, and on a national level, his ability to strike up an understanding with Jamie Maclaren could prove dividends for the Socceroos leading into the 2018 World Cup.
Ange Postecoglou will certainly be relieved to see him playing consistent minutes again.
Oar’s move back Down Under can only bring positives to a league already brimming with exciting talent and a highly competitive field. Hopefully, he can find form, fitness and rebuild his still fledgling career at his old stomping ground.
And if he helps lead Brisbane Roar back to glory and secures game time with the Socceroos, it will be a vindicated career choice.