A-League Mid-Season Report Card: Brisbane Roar

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We are at the halfway mark of the 2019/20 A-League season, so it’s about time The Football Sack takes a look at the performance of Brisbane Roar.

Semester summary: A season of renewal looked to be on the horizon for the Roar pre-season. A new coach in Robbie Fowler and a new look team seemingly brought a renewed sense of optimism after a number of seasons in the doldrums.

After a strong pre-season that included victory over last season’s champions Sydney FC in the FFA Cup round of 32, it looked as if the Roar faithful would have plenty to cheer about at Suncorp.

However, once the A-League got underway Fowler’s new look Brisbane side got off to a less than convincing start, securing two draws and falling to two narrow 1-0 losses in their first four games.

A dramatic 4-3 win over Melbourne City in round six looked to have the Roar back on track, with the squad finally converting their dominance in the possession stats into game winning goals.

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The excitement was short lived however as the Roar limped into 2020 on a drab note, suffering a 5-1 defeat at Sydney FC and only managed to secure points against the two teams currently lower than themselves on the table, the Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets.

The Roar seem to have turned the page in 2020, returning to winning form against the Western Sydney Wanderers on New Year’s Day and securing a valuable point against a strong Melbourne City side with a 2-2 draw last week.

Areas of excellence: If there is one thing that has not changed since the Roarcelona days, it’s that Brisbane continue to be a team that can string a few passes together and dominate possession.

There have been numerous games this season where the Roar have come out ahead in the possession stats but failed to score, and the team currently sit behind only Melbourne City in number of passes.

Another bright spot for the Roar has been their determination and fighting spirit, exemplified in their last ditch win in possibly the game of the season against City in round six.

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Areas in need of improvement: It’s been a season of tight margins for the Roar, and one that could be looking very different right now if they had converted more of their chances.

Three out of Brisbane’s five losses have been by a single goal and the side have the most draws out of any team in the league.

The Roar currently sit just two points outside of the finals spots and it must be frustrating for Fowler’s men to think of where they could be if just a few more of those tight games had fallen their way.

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Slow starts have also plagued Brisbane this season, with last week’s draw against Melbourne City only the second time the Roar have scored in the first-half this season.

If the Roar are to improve they need to assert their dominance earlier in the game and be far more clinical in front of goal.

Top student: Things are starting to look up for the Roar in recent weeks, thanks mostly to Brad Inman’s scintillating form.

The midfielder has scored four crucial goals in Brisbane’s last three matches, including both goals in their draw against Melbourne City, the winner against Western Sydney Wanderers, as well as a late goal to secure a point against Newcastle Jets.

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Fowler has said he believes Inman has what it takes to be amongst the best in the league, and if this recent form is anything to go by then it looks like Inman is starting to believe that himself.

If Inman can sustain this form, and if his teammates can lift around him, the Roar’s fortunes may be about to turn around.

Honourable mention to Jay O’Shea, who leads the league in chances created at 42.

In need of improvement: Aaron Amadi-Holloway, Jai Ingham and Dylan Wenzel-Halls.

It’s a simple equation for the Roar, they need to start converting their chances and scoring goals if they are to climb their way into finals series contention, and these three Roar forwards have only one goal between them so far this season.

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Amadi-Holloway has shown some promise as his fitness improves, but as we pass the halfway mark he needs to start scoring to keep his starting spot over Roy O’Donovan.

Grade: D+

Outlook: Ninth on the ladder is a position no side wants to be in at this point in the season, but with only two points separating them from Melbourne Victory in sixth place and a game in hand over almost every team above them there is still hope for the Roar faithful for some finals football in 2020.

While it’s unlikely the Roar walk away with the trophy, Fowler’s new look squad is starting to show signs of improvement in what will surely be a relief to the Liverpool legend.

Just how much the side have improved will be clear when the Roar take on the high flying Wellington Phoenix at Suncorp on Saturday, and a positive result will go a long way in making up for a lacklustre start to the 2019/20 season.

Feature image credit: Brisbane Roar FC

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Mathew Perry
Former snowmaker, TomTom salesman and subpar barista giving sports journalism a whirl. QUT Journalism student covering Brisbane Roar FC in the A-League and W-League.