Stadium: Suncorp Stadium
Finish Last Season: 5th (Semi Finals)
Inclusions: Matt McKay (Changchun Yatai) , Liam Miller (from Perth Glory), Diogo Ferreira (from Melbourne Victory), Dimitri Petratos (from Kelantan, Malaysia) , Corey Brown (elevated from youth side), George Lambadardis (elevated from youth side)
Departure Lounge: Massimo Murdocca (to Melbourne Heart) Matt Jurman (to Sydney FC), Mitch Nichols (to Melbourne Victory), Ben Halloran (to Fortuna Düsseldorf, Germany), Stefan Nijland (to PEC, Zwolle, Netherlands), Steven Lustica (to Hadjuk Split, Croatia – loan expired), James Meyer (released)
Make or Break:
After a disastrous first half of the season last year, Brisbane Roar managed to build up a head of steam under Mike Mulvey’s tutelage, eventually leading to a semi final meeting with premiers – Western Sydney Wanderers. If Roar are to extend this form into the upcoming season, there will need to be a major improvement regarding both performance and mentality, both of which they lacked at times last season. On paper, Brisbane Roar’s starting IX is arguably the best in the A-League this season. New additions Liam Miller and Matt McKay will boost the midfield along with surprise package Dimitri Petratos who has impressed in preseason. The style of play has reverted back to the Postecoglou era where Brisbane was most successful with a few minor tweaks. The interchange of players on the pitch as well as a greater focus on central attacks will be a prominent feature in this up coming season.
Although everything seems to be working smoothly on the pitch this preseason, it is the recent revelation that Roar are on the bare minimum of squad players included injured winger Kofi Danning, that has left many Brisbane fans concerned. This lack of depth could be a telling tale later on in the season if a major player was to succumb to injury.
Key Signing: Liam Miller
Touted as one of the best no. 10’s in the A-League, the former Irish international will be crucial in harmoniously distributing the ball in the final third. After the disaster of last season it was evident to Mike Mulvey that Brisbane’s weakness in attack was its predictability and overemphasis on the wings. Miller will become that linchpin that can wreak havoc through the centre of the pitch with passes cutting through the hearts of many A-League defences.
Who To Watch Out For: Luke Brattan
After the departure of Erik Paartalu from the former defending champions, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding Luke Brattan with many questioning his ability in stepping up into first team. He surprised many last term by slotting into the Roar side seamlessly. Lauded by both Ange Postecoglou and Mike Mulvey as the best distributor in the Roar side and arguably the league, Brattan will again be crucial to Brisbane’s on-field success. If the 23 year old can improve his defensive qualities, he could wreak havoc against many teams this upcoming season.
What To Watch Out For: Central Attacks
Through Brisbane Roar’s preseason, Mulvey has laid a heavy emphasis on interchange ability during play that will see the likes of Thomas Broich drift into the centre either exchanging his traditional role on the wing with Matt McKay or Liam Miller. This not only befuddles defensive units but also lends itself to more creative moves in the centre of the park. Although these important tweaks to the system were crucial in changing up the stagnate Brisbane Roar playing system, it is the understanding of both Thomas Broich and Besart Berisha that will see success return to Suncorp Stadium. The understanding of these two may seem telepathic at times and it was evident in the All Stars game in which Broich set up Berisha for the only All-Stars’ goal. This duo is heavily anticipated and with some of the pressure to create going to both Miller and McKay, be prepared to see a more free Thomas Broich. And with so many creative options, Berisha may as well be ecstatic with the overflow of creativity.
Why Is He Still On The List? Kofi Danning
Not so much a current player, but a returning Kofi Danning has many Brisbane fans confused on why Roar’s Management would waste such a crucial squad spot on an unimpressive player. But if there is a shining light here, it can be said that Kofi Danning may impress and become that player that we saw two years ago against Beijing Guoan where he tore apart their defence. Roar fans are hoping that this this signing of a injured player will not haunt them in the later stages of season 9.
To many A-League fans, Brisbane may not exude great expectations by buying star imports or declaring themselves the greatest club in the land, but don’t regard this as low ambition. Overall, the resounding emphasis by both the club and its fans in achieving nothing less then a top two finish this season is indicative of the expectations of Brisbane Roar in its entirety. There are still questions surrounding the squad of course and those answers may not be answered until deep into the season. But with one of the best squads in the A-League (on paper) combined with the additional hunger in succeeding, expect Brisbane Roar to trouble many teams this season.
Morgan Frendin Twitter: @mfrendinGoogle+