Brisbane Roar season preview: McKay tips Wenzel-Halls to emulate Barbarouses
Premier League legend Robbie Fowler is back in Australia, and ready to help fire Brisbane Roar back up the Hyundai A-League ladder.
But how quickly will Fowler's new-look Roar squad gel? Will the former Liverpool favourite thrive in his first full-time role in coaching?
We caught up club legend Matt McKay to preview the road ahead. Read on as McKay gives his verdict on Fowler, the matches Roar must win, along with a daring prediction or two.
Last season: Ninth
Matt McKay’s predicted position: Third
A-League.com.au's three things to watch
1. Fowler's transition into coaching
As a player, Robbie Fowler played at the very top level, scoring a swag of goals for Liverpool and England during an illustrious career.
But can he translate that success into management in his first major posting as a head coach?
2. O'Donovan the talisman
Brisbane have boasted some striking pedigree throughout their time: Besart Berisha, Adam Taggart and Jamie Maclaren to name a few.
Enter the new number no. 9 in Roar orange: Roy O'Donovan. The Irishman is a proven Hyundai A-League marksman, having filled his boots with Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets.
With plenty of creative flair and pace around the Irishman, Roar fans will be hoping O'Donovan can continue his knack of finding the net with relentless regularity.
3. How the new-look squad gels
The winds of change blew through Roar at the end of last season, with 16 players moving on and almost as many new faces coming in.
There's been some encouraging signs in pre-season that the plethora of new faces have bonded almost immediately, but the real test will come when the season gets into full swing from Round 1.
The first five fixtures
Perth Glory (a)
Melbourne Victory (H)
Western Sydney Wanderers (a)
Adelaide United (a)
Melbourne City (H)
McKay's key match-ups : Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory
“They’re the top teams in the league with the history and we’ve had some great battles.
“There’s always a lot of feeling in those clashes.
“Personally, I hated playing against them.”
McKay's players to watch
1. Tom Aldred
“Obviously Tom has got good pedigree, he’s strong boy.
“All these players that have come out from the UK, no matter if you know them or not, they’ve played in leagues where they’re playing 40-plus games a year.
“So they’re conditioned for it, they can handle the A-League. It’s not going to phase them, they’ve seen everything. That’s a plus.”
2. Dylan Wenzel-Halls
“He’s awesome. He’s got so much energy and he’s a great character and great guy, that’s why he fits in so well at Brisbane.
“On the field, he’s got a great attitude, he wants to be successful, he’s willing to do the hard yards.
“I spoke to him last season about being like a Kosta Barbarouses and scoring 10 plus goals every year.
“Once again, he had John Aloisi last year, and now he’s got Robbie Fowler. If he can pick up any of their attributes he’ll do really well.
“He’s got a really clean strike of the ball.”
Roy O'Donovan (Newcastle Jets) Story
Tom Aldred (Bury) Story
Aaron Amadi-Holloway (Shrewsbury) Story
Macaulay Gillesphey (Carlisle United) Story
Jake McGing (Wisla Plock) Story
George Mells (Fortuna Sittard) Story
Brad Inman (Rochdale) Story
Aiden O’Neill (on loan from Burnley) Story
Jay O'Shea (Bury) Story
Scott Neville (Perth Glory) Story
Max Crocombe (Salford City) Story
Jai Ingham (Central Coast Mariners) Story
Rahmat Akbari Story
Macklin Freke, Kai Trewin, Jordan Courtney-Perkins Story
Matt McKay (retired)
Nick D'Agostino, Dane Ingham (released) Story
McKay's squad verdict
“From the outside looking in, they’re going to be extremely fit, they’re going to work extremely hard and they want to play entertaining football.
“That’s what Brisbane always want to be.
“He’s setting up a team that’s going to be extremely hard to beat and entertaining.”
Brisbane Roar's 2019/20 squad
Jamie Young, Daniel Bowles, Jack Hingert, Connor O’Toole, Aaron Reardon, Izaack Powell, Kai Trewin, Stefan Mauk, Jacob Pepper, Dylan Wenzel-Halls, Roy O’Donovan, Tom Aldred, Aaron Amadi-Holloway, Macaulay Gillesphey, Jake McGing, George Mells, Brad Inman, Aiden O’Neill, Jay O’Shea, Scott Neville, Jai Ingham, Rahmat Akbari, Macklin Freke, Jordan Courtney-Perkins
The boss: Robbie Fowler
“I knew him from when he was playing in the A-League.
“I played against him and met him at the A-League launch and when he came out with Liverpool.
“He’s very good guy, very friendly and knows his stuff.”
“Third. I think they’ll be alright.
“To concede how many we conceded last season was not great. I think they’ll shore that up.
“It might be a different formation, I’m not sure. But they’ll be a lot better defensively.
“It’s a possession based style again, but they’ve got purpose.
“They’re building strength in that unit all over the park where they’ll work together and work for each other, they’ll do well.”
Roar's Fowler revolution will see the club in their traditional predominantly orange kit produced by Umbro.
The home kit will again feature black shorts and orange socks.
There are two away kits for the campaign, including a full grey strip, while the maroon strip makes a return again in 2019/20.
NEW STRIPS: Every club's kit for the new season