The Roar are another A-League club with a new coach in Robbie Fowler, and Brisbane have had a massive change-over in players, too.
There was an impressive win over the Sky Blues in the FFA Cup then a loss against the Mariners, but Fowler has looked to bring in a new style, headlined by UK and Irish imports.
Their ins are Rahmat Akbari, Roy O’Donovan, Tom Aldred, Aaron Amadi-Holloway, Macaulay Gillesphey, Jake McGing, George Mells, Brad Inman, Aiden O’Neill, Jay O’Shea, Scott Neville, Max Crocombe, and Jai Ingham.
Their departures include Matt McKay, Henrique, Thomas Kristensen, Luke DeVere, Brett Holman, Eric Bautheac, Alex Lopez, Tobias Mikkelsen, Joe Caletti, Eli Babalj, Charles Lokolingoy, Stefan Nigro, Ruon Tongyik, Brendan White, Jay Barnett, Daniel leck, Nicholas D’Agostino, and Dane Ingham.
Fowler has overseen quite a big turn-over. In terms of significant outs, the Roar have lost fan favourites Matt McKay (retired) and Henrique. Kristensen leaves after three years, having been one of their more prominent midfielders in the 2016/17 season. Alex Lopez and Mikkelsen leave after rather less than impactful seasons, bar a few fantastic goals, as well as Eric Bautheac, who was a solid player but never really lived up to what he was capable of.
They also lost long-serving defender Luke DeVere, who has gone to Wellington, plus Holman, whose Roar career was impacted last season by injury. And they’ve lost many young Aussies such as Caletti, Nigro, Tonyik, D’Agostino and Kiwi international Dane Ingham.
In terms of the imports, most of Fowler’s additions are from the UK and Ireland.
They signed Roy O’Donovan from the Jets. The Irishman has been prolific for the Jets in recent times, however injury and suspension has resulted in his highest goal tally being 11. The Roar faithful will be hoping that he will be able to fill the role of striker, which hasn’t been filled since Jamie Maclaren left.
He is joined by fellow Irishman Jay O’Shea. The Irishman has played most of his career in England’s League One and League Two has impressed in cup and pre-season games, bagging a goal against Sydney. It will be interesting to see if an Irish attacking partnership can happen with O’Donovan.
Scotsman Tom Aldred and Englishmen Macaulay Gillesphey fill roles at the back, and will look to be bolster a defence who conceded 71 goals last season. Aaron Amadi-Holloway will also boost the attack, but will be looking to improve his goal-scoring ratio after only two goals in 30 games for Shrewsbury Town. Aussies Scott Neville, Aiden O’Neill and Jai Ingham will add depth.
There are not many players remaining from last year due to the massive clean-out by Fowler. They do have former goalkeeper of the year Jamie Young, young Aussie Stefan Mauk – whose previous Roar season was largely hampered by injury – and exciting youngster Dylan Wenzell-Halls, who will be looking to continue his rise in the A-League after scoring five goals in 20 games so far for the Roar.
Fowler will be hoping that his mix of imports alongside many young Aussie players can create a good mix of exciting and attacking football, with a better defensive structure compared to previous seasons. They had an impressive win over the Sky Blues, showing what they are capable of doing against the reigning A-League champions.
But the question remains of whether a legendary player can become a good coach? Only time will tell, but the signs so far for the Roar have shown that there might be a return of the former glory days.