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The Roar

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After historic defeat, where to now for the beleaguered Brisbane Roar?

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31st December, 2023
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Almost 12 years after the Bakrie Group took full control of Brisbane Roar, the question that has vexed football fans in Queensland remains – what exactly do they hope to achieve by owning the club?

Melbourne City’s 8-1 annihilation of the Roar on Thursday night was the equal highest-ever winning margin in an A-League Men match.

It would have been a record had the Roar’s 16-year-old substitute Rylan Brownlie not scored his first ever A-League goal on the hour mark.

The record defeat came on the back of a difficult week for the Roar, after former head coach Ross Aloisi announced he was leaving the club following just nine league games in charge to join Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai Port as Kevin Muscat’s assistant.

Aloisi was Muscat’s assistant when the pair won the J. League with Yokohama F. Marinos in 2022, but his departure was still seen as a major shock.

And the way the Roar conceded those eight goals on Thursday suggested a few players didn’t have their heads in the game.

A soft set-piece opener to Curtis Good was followed by the Roar getting caught on the break for Jamie Maclaren’s first of the night, before Aziz Behich played one of the passes of the season for Maclaren to bag his 150th A-League goal before half-time.

Jamie Maclaren celebrates with teammates (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

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Yet as soft as many of the City goals were, it’s worth keeping the defeat in perspective.

Good, Behich and Maclaren have all played for the Socceroos while the stand-out player on the night – City’s classy German import Tolgay Arslan – was one of Udinese’s key players in Italy’s highly technical Serie A.

The Roar, meanwhile, started with Matt Acton in goal and Alex Parsons up front.

Interim coach Luciano Trani was right when he said in the post-game press conference that Melbourne City – with the might of the City Football Group behind them – have access to resources rival clubs can only dream of.

But that doesn’t mean the Roar don’t have a few issues of their own making.

Skipper Tom Aldred is yet to agree terms on a new contract and has been a passenger in recent weeks, while the decision to drop goalkeeper Macklin Freke and replace him with Acton backfired spectacularly.

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Just as noteworthy are the rumours around who has been calling the shots.

“Our focus remains to (sic) fill our No.9 position and more defensive cover,” said the Roar’s new Chief of Operations, Zac Anderson in one of several ‘management updates’ published so far this season.

In the end, there was no visa signing and the only defensive cover ultimately signed was Aaron Reardon from NPL Queensland and a club-less Antonee Burke-Gilroy.

It’s Anderson who has been heading up the Roar’s recruitment and it was the former A-League defender who told News Corp journalist Marco Monteverde back in July: “We can be clear that there are enough funds from the owners to get the right players”.

He, along with the man Anderson recommended as the club’s new chief executive, Kaz Patafta, have made a number of notable moves early on in their tenure.

The most significant was undoubtedly the decision to sack A-League Women head coach Garrath McPherson four rounds into the season and replace him with first-time head coach Alex Smith.

McPherson had failed to qualify for the finals in each of his two seasons in charge, while Smith knows the competition – and Anderson personally – following a couple of previous stints as an ALW assistant coach.

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But it does beg the question of where the buck stops when things go awry.

The new leadership duo is known to be big fans of Ben Cahn, who Anderson played under during his time at NPL Queensland heavyweights Olympic FC.

And their ‘Queensland first’ mentality is a sensible strategy for a club that has lost its connection with fans.

Cahn deserves his chance as an A-League head coach, but for now it’s the experienced Trani in charge.

Meanwhile, Anderson and Patafta have a bigger question to solve.

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How do they convince Brisbane Roar fans to keep supporting a club the Bakrie Group seemed to lose interest in long ago?

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