Brisbane show there's fire in troubled club's belly


The last time Brisbane Roar played at Jubilee Stadium in December 2011 they came on the back of a 4-0 thumping of Perth Glory that gave them a record unbeaten 36-game streak.

Ange Postecoglou's 'unbeatables' were up against Vitezslav Lavicka's Sydney FC side that took control early in the match and went on to win 2-0 with goals from Dimi Petratos and Brett Emerton.

Seven years down the track the club that for several years was seen as the benchmark for Australian football excellence revisited the ground for an A-League round 10 match under very different circumstances.

Brisbane are a shadow of the stellar team whose special style brought so much joy to football lovers across the country not so long ago.

They were languishing near the bottom of the league with one win from nine matches and reeling from a 4-1 debacle against Wellington Phoenix going into their Saturday night match with the Sky Blues.

On the eve of the match head coach John Aloisi stunned his players at training when he told them he was relinquishing his position.

He thus became the next senior person after director of football Craig Moore to quit the troubled club in search of saner pastures.

No official reason was given for Aloisi's decision but insiders claim the modus operandi of the Indonesian Bakrie Group that owns the club is at odds with components of the football department.

Complaints about late payments to players, no superannuation contributions and poor training facilities followed the club for many months and, even though these issues have since been resolved, the football group's lack of confidence in the owners' running of the club persisted.

And when you add the team's disastrous start to the current season, due in part to the club's failure to address the problem of an ageing side, the writing was on the wall for an exasperated coach who played in Europe for many years and would know a thing or two about how a professional football club should be run.

A Sydney side in sparkling form is the last team you'd want to face a day after you lose your head coach.

But Brisbane's players reacted positively to the tumultuous events of the last week and were very much in the game until the last minute before they crashed to a 2-1 defeat. They even missed a penalty with less than 10 minutes to go.

Brisbane played with the sort of vigour and enterprise that augurs well for the post-Aloisi future but they could not do anything to stop free-scoring forward Adam Le Fondre from notching a spectacular double.

The Englishman found the net in the first half with a looping header and 11 minutes after the resumption of play he finished off a flowing team move by deftly sliding the ball home.

Brisbane's stand-in coach Darren Davies opened his post-match press conference by paying tribute to Aloisi.

"We have lost a good person who has done a fantastic job for this football club and for every single one of us," Davies said.

"What he's given in the last three and a half years cannot be underestimated. The mood of the group was very sombre when we heard the news.

"It was difficult because the players are very fond of Aloisi but they are professionals and had a job to do today. Our reaction could have got us a point."

Brisbane have several weaknesses across the park but they also have enough quality to emerge from this critical period and the way they played for most of the match against Sydney would suggest that they are odds-on to do so.

But unless the administrative issues that have dogged the club and affected the team's morale for years are not fixed once and for all, any progress made on the field would be of a temporary nature and unlikely to return the club to where it belongs ... in the top half of the table fighting for the honours and playing a type of eye-catching football the fans at large have come to expect.

The A-League needs a strong Brisbane Roar.