A-League mid-season report card: Brisbane Roar

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We’re slightly past the season’s half-way mark, meaning it’s about that time where each club receives their Football Sack mid-season grading.

Semester summary: Disaster. Brisbane Roar’s season has been an absolute disaster. Many had Brisbane pegged as sure-fire finals attendees. Their season trajectory couldn’t have landed further from these lofty expectations.

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Brisbane started the season shakily, under-performing in many of their opening fixtures. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed though. Their round five win against Melbourne City felt like it could have been a turning point. Instead, Brisbane collapsed. They haven’t won a game since.

The December resignation of John Aloisi killed any chance Brisbane had of redeeming their season. It’s true they were stagnating under Aloisi but they’ve made little progress under interim boss Darren Davies either. While his youth-centric approach is refreshing, the squad have no on-pitch identity. They look lost.

Areas of excellence: Without wanting to sound too caustic, there’s not one area Brisbane have excelled in this season. They’re bottom five in goals scored, goals conceded, conversion rate, clean sheets and passing accuracy. The only thing they’re good at is fouling: coming first in the league for fouls conceded, yellow cards and red cards.

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The one possible thing you could say they’ve done well – prior to Aloisi’s resignation – is create chances. Before he resigned, Aloisi’s Roar were one of the A-League’s best for setting up their attackers. That didn’t mean much though as they’ve sported a horrible conversion rate all season long.

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Areas in need of improvement: Where to begin? They’ve been consistently weak on the defensive end: prone to lapses in judgement. This is exemplified by their poor disciplinary record. Their entire backline is just one big ‘meh’.  Avram Papadopoulos brought nothing but unbridled aggression before he departed though at least he brought something. Daniel Bowles, Jacob Pepper and Luke DeVere are all squad players who serve little use besides padding out a team sheet.

Brisbane’s finishing has been very poor, boasting a conversion rate of just 12%. This statistic is disappointing when you consider the high expectations many had of striker Adam Taggart. He was considered an almost de facto golden boot winner when he signed for Brisbane. Instead, he’s been plagued by inconsistency: routinely missing chances he should be slotting with ease.

In general, the team’s attitude needs addressing. This was especially apparent in Aloisi’s last few games, their frustration and hot-headedness morphing into malaise. While they’ve regained some fire under Davies it’s come at a cost with a loss of tactical execution.

Top student: Jamie Young has been one of Brisbane’s few blameless players this season. He’s carried on with last season’s stellar form between the sticks – the only reason he won’t win back to back Goalkeeper of the Year awards is because of his team’s struggles. Truly the hero Brisbane don’t deserve.

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Class clown: There are several players who could take this dubious title – Tobias Mikkelsen and Daniel Bowles spring to mind. But given the high expectations most have of marquee players, Eric Bautheac is my choice. He simply hasn’t been the leader Roar need. He’s provided little in the way of end product and his explosive on-field outbursts have called into question his attitude and maturity.

It’s a shame. On paper, he should be a top-three player in the league as players of his dribbling and play-making ability are rarely seen in Australia. But given the implausibility of him stepping down from his marquee status – making way for new talent – or sticking around for a squad rebuild, it feels like this may be his last season in Brisbane.

Grade: F+

Outlook: The rest of the season is a write-off. End of story. The fact the board have only now, weeks after Aloisi’s departure, announced their assembly of a coach selection committee smacks of incompetence. Why wasn’t that done the second Aloisi resigned? Until a permanent head coach is announced, none of the matches played or decisions made are going to matter. There won’t be any meaningful player signings until a coach is locked in either.

Until the coaching situation is sorted, the most constructive thing they can do is to play as many youth players as possible. This is something Davies has already been doing with the likes of Dane Ingham, Joe Caletti, Nicholas D’Agostino and Aaron Reardon all getting extended runs in the first team. Blooding these players and giving them an opportunity to develop is the only positive I can see in the remainder of a very bleak season for Brisbane.

Feature image credit:  Brisbane Roar

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Ben Paynter
Loves Brisbane. Loves a pint. Loves a 'Kevin Muscat Bad Tackle' YouTube compilation.