Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A is for Ange

Ange must be tasting the irony in all this like someone putting 'big red' source on the meal his mum slow cooked for hours.

He spent 5 plus years ignored by the A-League. Now just about every club sees him as 'the answer'. Like they just read he won 2 national titles as a player and now 3 as a coach.

He is a smart, articulate man. He matches it with the toughest journalists, leads them to the answer. Fixes miss-perceptions deftly.

He can also live in the world where he discreetly lays down the law. But in public on game day he is in the background. He knows how to handle young men, do as he says or they will miss out on being part of his team. And yes you want to be part of his team.

Ange is a planner and strategist. Seeing the big picture, not trying to solve all the problems at once.

Having said that, the cornerstone of his plan is the 'known' way to get results in modern football. Play out from the back, but not always. Play and run off the ball into continuously forming triangles. Pass short and forward. Go wide and straight down the middle. Follow the curriculum. Play the right way and mistakes are forgiven.

And yet for all his success in doing it 'his way', this role at Brisbane Roar has added something for him. A new charisma in which he sweeps all before. Jumping ship even for family could jeopardise what he dreams of... being the ACL champion. He moves - and that is another 2 years of risk. But without more resources he knows he will struggle against Urawa and the rest. You can do so much with unproven or low cost players. The top flight needs some higher cost magic.

And then there is the FFA. Melbourne Victory was its cash cow, yet it is now fading in quality and finances. And Heart's investors have lost heart. Even though they have done as well as could be expected. Both teams think the answer is Ange. More than just it can't be both teams' answer, it must be neither team. They must find their own Ange. Otherwise the magic is at risk for them, as the weight of expectation catches up with the charisma (you can't buy it, sorry).

And worse Queensland, the state of opportunity and untapped wealth, is at risk for FFA. Without Ange, the players would loose their mojo, anybody else would be a compromise - someone Victory and Heart did not want. The fans would again be cynical after being let down again. With Fury gone, Gold Coast seemingly on the edge, Brisbane would be next. Then who? No, FFA must do what Ange wants, money, 2 marquee players and no empty spots in the squad. Then probably a guest too - then we may see Brisbane rock - 30,000 every game, then 40,000.

Then the ACL.

That would be best for Ange.

Victory and Heart get creative. The Answer isn't as simple as A is for Ange.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Brisbane 2 v Central Coast 2 (Brisbane 4-2 on penalties)

50,100 were there. More than 10,000 left early (who will admit that in years to come).

More later.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sustainability and this Grand Final

This is a big game for the A-League.

Up until November 2010 the Roar's brand was still in trouble. Perhaps a result other than the incredible and unpredictable winning streak you we have seen would have seen the A-League in full retreat across Queensland. Gold Coast's future is unclear, but we could have seen all Queensland teams under FFA management. Perhaps with little prospect of new owners.

This makes what the FFA does next absolutely vital. And they aren't giving much away.

And unfortunately, the result on Sunday is critical. Somewhere in FFA there must be at least a little thought that world wrestling's business model would be a good option. Or perhaps even the controlled outcomes we see from AFL (where important markets are given access to money, the best coaches and the best young and old players until their cash flow is positive). But you can't do that. This is the world commodity game, globalised and with the least trade barriers, much of the 'net' money flows towards FIFA. FIFA, by and large, is the only part of the structure with a robust monopoly. And we know that in the long term, to make above average returns on capital employed you need a monopoly (among friends let's call it a competitive advantage).

My advice, make the most of the lead up. Savor every moment and every pass of the game. Next season is going to be, as the saying goes, interesting.

Friday, March 11, 2011

FFA throw dice: Matthew Breeze to ref final

Matthew Breeze is quite prepared to sent someone off in the early minutes of a Grand Final - ask Adelaide. I assume the FFA have thought this through.

The plus side is that Breeze is his own man, who walks to his own drum beat. I other words he will be another 'player' on the field.

Anything could happen. Well 50,000 people need to go home home entertained. So Matthew could do it.

Go Matt.

Brisbane get 10 out of 12 in Team of the Year - new home of Australian soccer

Hyundai A-League 2010/11 All-Stars (4-3-3):

Goalkeeper: Michael Theoklitos (Brisbane Roar)

Defenders: Luke DeVere (Brisbane Roar), Joshua Rose (formerly Brisbane Strikers), Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar), Cassio (Adelaide United),

Midfielders: Matt McKay (Brisbane Roar), Marcos Flores (Adelaide United), Thomas Broich (Brisbane Roar)

Attackers: Sergio Van Dijk (formerly Brisbane Roar), Robbie Kruse (formerly Brisbane Roar), Kosta Barbarouses (Brisbane Roar)

Coach: Ange Postecoglou (Brisbane Roar)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When you get to the game:

Precinct activities commence at 2pm.

Pre-Match activities in-Stadia
3pm - Qantas Choir, 1997 NSL Champions Brisbane Strikers and Westfield
W-League 2011 Champions Brisbane Roar Women presented to the crowd
3.20pm - Players warm up
3.30pm - Hyundai A-League Retiring Players Honoured
3.45pm - Performance by Regurgitator

We recommend picking up your tickets before you head to the venue. Click
on the link below to see a list of the Ticketek agencies where you can
collect your tickets.

Be sure to allow extra time to get to and from Suncorp Stadium as there
will be major event road closures, parking restrictions and a capacity
crowd in attendance.

Free Travel on QR Trains and BT Bus Services only - conditions apply.

For more information on public transport to and from the game, visit the
Translink website:

Info from ticketec.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Brisbane's mid-field

For 6 years Matt McKay and Massimo Murdocca have powered the Roar's mid-field. This year McKay has stepped up and Massimo has played the supporting role as Ange's possession and move forward game has kicked in.

Matt McKay 10/10
26 games 26 starts, 3 goals and 5 assists.
Brisbane's own stared for the Roar and the Socceroos in Asia. Matt has justified his status as the highest paid player under the salary cap. Clearly the right choice over Sergio Van Dijk, whose presence probably cost Adelaide a finals spot (forcing them up through the middle). Back to McKay - great energy, great motivator.

Thomas Broich 10/10
31 games, 31 starts, 6 goals and 12 assists.
While Marco Flores won the players' player of the season, Broich and McKay were the fans' players. Broich will face more thuggery from CCM this weekend, so far he has shown he is up to the challenge. A wizard down the left, also magic down the right. Always capable of something special.

Erik Paartarlu 9.5/10
32 games, 32 starts, 3 goals and 2 assists.
Is Erik a defender or a mid-fielder? Quietly cleaning up in the lower middle third, Erik has been the value find for Brisbane from a back water of Scottish football. In return his career has been given new life.

Mitch Nichols 9.5/10
Mitch, along with Henrique, brings something different to the pitch. Mitch has made Kosta. Another fan favourite who come create some 'in the box magic' that could win the Grand Final for Brisbane.

Massimo Murdocca 8/10
26 games for 18 starts, 1 goal and 3 assists
Massimo has brought commitment and energy to the bench to a throw at a tiring opposition. Helps the Roar to play at top speed throughout the full 90 minutes plus.

Luke Brattan 6/10
6 games from the bench for 1 assist.
Brattan showed some of the potential that is expected from him. One for next year.

Rocky Visconte 5/10
Twitter: @visconte14
14 games and 1 start, 1 goal.
Another player from a low profile Scottish club. Injury interrupted Rocky's start and lost him an opening spot. Fans love his name, but the results haven't come, yet.

Henrique 8.5/10
Twitter: @henrique10roar
13 games, 7 starts, 3 goals and 1 assist.
The fans' favourite player - perhaps across the league. The guy that says 'I love you Brisbane' into the TV camera when he scores. Has the ability to light up a game and turn it in favour of the Roar with guile, speed and skill.

James Meyer 7/10
4 games, 2 starts, 4 goals and 2 assists.
James could rock the A-League next year. Came to change games this year. Played up front and in the mid-field. Great surprise, can't wait.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

FFA hits pay dirt

The FFA have hit pay dirt with a Suncorp Sunday afternoon final.

The pricing decision was tough and yet easy. It was probably the only choice.

While the FFA would have wanted to reward loyal fans, their financial position and that of clubs across the league meant pricing to produce the maximum total dollars.

The outcome of Central Coast v Gold Coast won't mean a lot to crowd numbers. However, it will impact the 'story' in the lead up to the Grand Final, including valuations on key players who may be eying overseas or inter-club moves. It may also affect TV audiences, although Fox Sports will be happy that, at last, the market with the biggest untapped market, Brisbane, is at last in play.

The future of Gold Coast United may well be determined or put into play by the outcome of today's preliminary final. Next week's final will determine the Roar's future ownership. The mining industry seems the answer, Vale, Xstrata, BHP or Rio Tinto. The Vale link was made 2 seasons ago but a decision was made to use Charlie Miller for a visa spot instead of the agreed offer to a club linked to the Brazilian Vale. Vale is Brazil's largest company and their Australian headquarters is here in Brisbane.

Looking at things from another angle, Brisbane Roar fans typically walk up to the game instead of buying in advance. Some seasons back they only had 500 odd season ticket holders, while crowds were up near an average of 15,000. Walkers to this game risk missing it.

Club officials and FFA struggle to regularly predict fan interest. This awareness of 'why and when' fans will buy a ticket to a game, given that TV rights are centrally managed, is critical to club success. However, this skill or the awareness of how to develop it, is in very short supply. The focus, naturally, is 'looking after our people.'

30,000 tickets gone - Sunday 13 March 4pm

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Brisbane Roar: Defence Squad Review (for Sunday 4pm 13 March)

Michael Theokiltos - Keeper
Score: 9 / 10
32 starts for 32 games. 87 saves and 12 clean sheets.

Perhaps Ange's key signing for the year. The Greek connection probably played some role. However, there is no doubting Theo's quality. While the strength of the team in front, means he won't get full recognition, Theo is in the top 2 keepers in the A-League.

Luke Devere (Centre Back)
Score: 6 / 10
26 starts in 26 games, and 1 goal from 5 attempts on target, and 2 assists.

While Luke came a long way under Craig Moore's guidance, this season he broke out on his own. However, the move to Korea was ill advised. Young people must play, and he is unlikely to get quality game time. At the same time the Korea training approach will push his body to its limits. His unorthodox runs through the middle of the park, rewarded at least once by a Solorzano goal, were a season highlight.

Matt Smith (Centre Back)
Score: 7.5 / 10
32 starts in 32 games. 2 goals from 8 shots on target, and 1 assist.

A real find from Fury. Solid in defence and a threat from set pieces in attack. Very reliable and amazingly strong in the air compared to his centre forward rivals.

Ivan Franjic (Right Back)
Score: 9 / 10
20 starts in 22 games. 2 goals from 16 shots on target, 5 assists.

Moved ahead leaps and bounds this year. A find for Farina was turned into the best 'overlapping' right back in the A-League under Ange. His pressurizing runs, great crosses and preparedness to shoot, added to the Roar exciting 'go forward' approach. Plus his use of twitter has marked Ivan as a real asset to the club. Soon for Socceroo duty.

Shane Stefanutto (Left Back)
Score: 7.5 / 10
21 starts in 22 games. 1 assist and no shots on target.

Another great buy in a player that Fury reportedly paid the season before the 6 highest salary-capped salary in the A-League. The speed is not there any more and some teams tried to attack down his flank. But Shane more than made up for speed with football smarts.

Milan Susak (Centre Back and Right Back)
Score 6 / 10
24 starts from 28 games, with 3 shots on target.

Out of position and perhaps injured for much of the season, Susak looked a lot better in the centre rather than running forward on the right. When on the right his lack of penetration and inability to give and go, made Roar look very left sided.

Matt Mundy (substitute Back)
Score 5 / 10
5 starts from 15 games.

Mundy looked like a real find in first few games. However, he was unable to sustain his impact. Will be interesting to see where his takes his game from here.