Agonisingly close to the Grand Final for a second straight season, Brisbane Roar will look back on the 2016/17 campaign with a feeling of 'what might have been'. We review their season and look ahead to the 2017/18 campaign.
Position: 3rd, beaten semi-finalists
Record: Played 29, Won 11, Drawn 10, Lost 8
Leading Goal Scorer: Jamie Maclaren (20)
Best home crowd: 20,198 – Round 5 against Melbourne City
Star performer: Jamie Maclaren
Where would Roar have been without their main man? For a second successive season, the fringe Caltex Socceroos striker notched 20 goals, becoming the first player to achieve the feat. The next best Brisbane player netted just five.
He was equally potent off both feet, hassled and harried defenders and showed an eye for the spectacular, best demonstrated by his winning goal against Victory in round 24, when he fashioned a dipping volley over Lawrence Thomas from outside the box. He will be sorely missed.
Breakout player: Joe Caletti
In his first Hyundai A-League season, the former Australian under-17 captain was thrust into the starting side after injury forced Matt McKay to the sidelines. He impressed greatly in his ten appearances (including half an hour off the bench in the semi-final against Victory), showing composure beyond his years.
The young midfielder was rewarded with selection in an under-23 training camp for the upcoming AFC qualifiers and looks set to soon extend his deal at Suncorp to next season and beyond.
Goal of the year: Dimitri Petratos
After less than half an hour in their round 15 clash against Victory at AAMI Park, Roar found themselves 3-0 down. There seemed little danger when they won a free-kick thirty yards from goal, but Petratos produced one of the all-time great Hyundai A-League set-piece strikes, drilling a right-footed piledriver into the top corner. It was a simply jaw-dropping goal.
Highlight: Macca catches fire
With speculation about his future swirling, Maclaren found himself benched by John Aloisi for successive games in mid-January. His response was to do what he does best.
After grabbing a late winner as a substitute away at Phoenix, the super-striker went on a golden run, scoring ten goals in seven games, including a round 25 hat-trick against the Mariners.
Lowlight: A stuttering start
After grabbing an equaliser with practically the last kick of their season-opener against Victory, Brisbane travelled to Newcastle in week two and were soundly beaten 4-0 by a rampant Jets side.
An early own-goal from Jack Hingert put Roar behind before three goals in the final half-hour, including one from former Brisbane player Devante Clut, completed an unexpected rout. It was also Brisbane’s sixth successive away match without a win. Thankfully things improved quickly after that, with no losses in the next ten games.
What they need:
Fresh from signing a new three-year deal, coach John Aloisi has a busy off-season ahead. Top of the list is a replacement for Maclaren, who announced his departure via social media this week. It’s an unenviable task for Aloisi with Maclaren netting 40 goals in his last 53 matches. On top of that, Brandon Borrello is likely to move on and imports Thomas Broich and Manuel Arana haven’t been offered new deals, so the attacking third requires a complete overhaul.
Acquisitions for next season:
Losses for next season:
Thomas Broich, Jamie Maclaren, Manuel Arana, Cameron Crestani, Joey Katebian, Nathan Konstandopoulos.
Outlook for 2017/18:
Recruitment is absolutely crucial for John Aloisi with so many attacking players leaving the club. Replacing just one of Maclaren, Borrello or Broich would be tough enough but finding players to fill the gaps left by that entire trio is what the former Caltex Socceroos star faces in the next few months.
If effective goalscoring reinforcements can be found, the experienced core of the squad remains from this season which should see Roar there or thereabouts again in 2017/18.