Convincing pre-season victories, a proper Australia Cup run, and a coach who seems to understand exactly what it is that fans want. What on earth is going on at Brisbane Roar?
For those desperate to see new Brisbane Roar tactician Ross Aloisi face off against his younger brother John as a head coach, it’s already happened.
Brisbane Roar ran out comfortable 3-1 winners over Western United in a friendly at Meakin Park in Logan on Saturday afternoon – albeit with the aid of a couple of converted penalties.
It comes on the back of the Roar’s 5-0 hammering of last season’s beaten Australia Cup finalists Sydney United at Edensor Park a week ago, a result which sets up a genuinely tasty quarter-final tie against the equally in-form Western Sydney Wanderers.
But more than the results, it’s Ross Aloisi’s no-nonsense approach to transforming his side into a genuine force to be reckoned with that should be music to the ears of Roar fans.
“I think we want to win in everything we play – of course,” Aloisi told me after training last week.
“But in saying that, our main focus is on improving every single performance we put in.
“Whether it’s a training game, whether it’s in the Cup… the focus is on what we’re doing and not what others are doing,” he added.
A single-minded focus on only worrying about things he can control is a recurring theme – something Aloisi learned to appreciate while winning a J. League championship as Kevin Muscat’s assistant at Yokohama F. Marinos last season.
“I knew I was going to learn,” Aloisi said of his time in Japan. “But I had no idea just how much I was going to learn.
“It was first class,” he said of working alongside a Muscat he described as meticulous in his approach to everything.
“The training sessions, match days, the half-time talks, post-game, everything… even after away games, we’d be analysing it all the next morning.”
You get the sense Aloisi has arrived back in Australia brimming with confidence and eager to play the sort of football Roar fans enjoyed a decade ago under Ange Postecoglou.
He’s already brought in one of the league’s best players in former Melbourne City playmaker Florin Berenguer, and says the Roar are still in the market for a foreign striker to complement the Frenchman.
That’s despite the fact the club are operating under one of the tightest budgets in the league, with Aloisi making it clear he’s keen to provide a pathway for young talents like 15-year-old Quinn MacNicol and towering 18-year-old striker Tom Waddingham – who was impressive in the win over Sydney United – into the first team.
Aloisi is philosophical about what went on at the club under previous regimes, pointing out he simply has to work with the resources currently available to him.
But the club’s new chief executive Kaz Patafta and chief operations officer Zac Anderson are already fans, with the duo said to be deeply impressed by Aloisi’s attention to detail and strong work ethic.
For his part, Aloisi simply wants to get on with the job of winning games for Brisbane Roar.
“I want the supporters to be able to look at their team and say they’re proud of the football we’re playing and that it’s exciting to watch,” he explained.
“It’s not about me, it’s not about an individual, it’s about the team.
“The players play for the supporters, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
With the club moving back to Suncorp Stadium permanently this season – their Round 2 clash with Sydney FC is already looking like a must-see encounter – Brisbane Roar fans have every reason to head into the new campaign with a growing sense of confidence.
They may still end up losing more games than they win under a head coach who already knows the club well.
But one thing is certain: it won’t be through a lack of effort on Ross Aloisi’s part.