John Aloisi had taken Brisbane Roar to finals every year since becoming manager, yet, come last week, Aloisi stepped down from his post in face of mounting pressure. Where did it all go wrong for the ex-Socceroo?

John Aloisi came into Brisbane as an almost perfect match for the club: A manager who had something to prove following his unsuccessful time at Melbourne Heart (now City), a disciple of adored former Brisbane manager Ange Postecoglou.

It was seen as crucial both to supporters and the club that they stay true to the passing-orientated, wholesome brand of total football which had seen them scale the heights of Australian football, which was a coincidentally a shared vision from Aloisi.

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By restoring an identity, Brisbane seemingly returned to form in 2015/16 as they never dropped out of the top four during the season, holding first position for 10 weeks collectively, which was equal only to Western Sydney Wanderers in that season. By seasons end, Brisbane qualified for Asia, made a semi-final and finished a measly point away from another minor premiership.

Aloisi leaves Brisbane with the fifth-highest winning percentage as coach and the club’s longest serving manager. However, that is majorly skewed by including this season into this graph. Without including this season, Aloisi’s winning percentage jumps from 34.98% to 46% which would see him ranked in the top three Brisbane coaches of all-time.

 

So where did it all go wrong after such a promising start?

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On the surface it seems like everything broke down slowly after that promising first season, which requires a caveat. Between regularly unpaid bills, the threat of the Bakrie Group leaving and the lack of training facilities until this season will have an impact and Aloisi was working in a less then desirable situation which was to an extent, beyond his control.

However, there were aspects, especially on-field, which where under Aloisi’s control which regressed significantly during his tenure and made his stay untenable by the end, especially when the fan-base began to turn away.

The goal-scoring form of the first season, which saw Brisbane rank equal second for goals scored, was mainly spearheaded by the impervious form of Jamie Maclaren, whose goals counted 42% of Brisbane goals scored during his stint.

 

Contrast that effort to the Maclaren’s replacement in 2017/18, Massimo Maccarone, Brisbane was effectively operating with half the offensive threat which they had in Aloisi’s better seasons. Apart from missing 10 goals overall from the team, Maccarone’s contribution is also roughly 10% reduced, making it hard for Brisbane to grab points which they may have nabbed in previous seasons.

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It isn’t solely on the shoulders of Massimo Maccarone because across the three completed seasons, Brisbane constantly regressed in goals scored, as shown below, which was never rectified.

This may be because of the midfield where the most noticeable decline is shown, the one area where Brisbane had dominated for so long. Under Aloisi, Brisbane lost control in the centre of the park, which had been fundamental to the pass-and-move philosophy everyone associated with the club seemed attached too.

Across the three completed seasons, Brisbane had consistently suffered a drop in passing accuracy and average passes completed per season, with the greatest deterioration occurring between the second and third seasons. Perhaps, the loss of the ball equates with the reduction in goals which suffered between those same two seasons, by extension it does show this was a team which was on the way down as the problem was either never identified or fixed.

Similarly, there were issues with selection as Aloisi never seemed to understand which players compromised his best starting eleven. Best highlighted by the battle between ex-Brisbane stalwart Michael Theo and cult-hero Jamie Young, who served as Theo’s number two but deputised during Theo’s horror run with injuries, Aloisi could never seem to pick and stick between the sticks.

Jamie Young shot to prominence in his first season at Roar, standing-in while Michael Theo was out with injury. Despite playing more, Young managed to record a far higher clean sheet percentage in his games compared to Theo. Despite an encouraging debut season, Young was stuck behind Theo in the 2016/17 season despite still managing a higher clean sheet percentage in his games played. Young finally managed to claim the goalkeeper position in 2017/18, and was rewarded with Brisbane’s Player of the Year and the A-League Goalkeeper of the Year awards.

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Despite showing superior performance, it never seemed to be rewarded by the coaching staff which was a similar story across the field and may have been another reason the Roar seemed out-of-sorts towards the end of the Aloisi tenure.

It often slipped under the radar, but fair play had long been a pillar of the Postecoglou regime but continued beyond that with the Roar being six-time winners of the Fair Play Award, a point often celebrated amongst their fan-base.

Using Aloisi’s three completed seasons as a timeline and by tracking the cards received by clubs in the original season (2015/16) against the cards received in Aloisi’s final completed season (2017/18), the graph below shows growth (anything +1) or decline (anything -1) in cards received.

Brisbane Roar is the only club during the given time-frame which actually gathered more cards in 2017/18 then the amount received in 2015/16 thus being the only +1 team, every other club recorded decreased amount. It points to a move away from the club’s traditional values which had been a tenant of what Aloisi was bought in to protect.

After such a bright start which had left the Roar faithful dreaming of yet another dynasty and promised a fairy-tale redemption story it was left incomplete with many questions unanswered. It shows success and then deterioration, which cannot be explained by one thing but by a concoction of factors on-field and not helped by the drama off it.

Statistics found via Ultimate A-League or ALeagueStats.com

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A student at University of South Australia who hopes his writing disguises his lack of sporting prowess and a fan who masquerades his choice in mediocre teams as being hipster