It has been a challenging three weeks for the Brisbane Roar, starting with their A-League Men coach Ross Aloisi leaving just prior to Christmas and ending with the team extending their losing streak to four games with a home defeat to Sydney FC last weekend.
In between, they have appointed the youngest head coach in their 20-year A-League history – highly rated 35-year-old Ben Cahn – and suffered a humiliating 8-1 reversal to Melbourne City in interim coach Luciano Trani’s only game in charge.
It is perhaps understandable then that the club’s Chief Operating Officer Zac Anderson is keen to get back to business, especially with the A-League transfer window now open.
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With the priority on the pitch being to arrest the recent run of form, the Roar have wasted no time since the transfer window opened last Wednesday, signing Melbourne Victory defender Ryan Lethlean on an 18-month contract.
The left footed centre back will bolster Brisbane’s defensive stocks in the continued absence of Scott Neville and can also fill in at left back if required, which could be useful given Corey Brown’s ongoing injury problems.
“Ryan has been on our radar for some time, and we’ve been impressed with his pace and physicality,” Anderson told The Inner Sanctum.
“We believe he can have an impact this season and is also young enough to develop for the future,” he added.
Anderson, who heads up the Roar’s recruitment team, has also secured attacking midfielder Keegan Jelacic on loan from Belgian side Gent.
The 21-year-old Queenslander, who has represented Australia at under 23 level, returns to the Roar after making his A-league debut for the club back in 2021, before starring for Olympic FC in Brisbane’s NPL competition under the tutelage of current Roar coach Cahn.
More signings may still be to come, with Anderson confirming that “we are still looking at ideally bringing in a centre forward and potentially a specialist left back, but we only want players who fit our DNA.”
He went on to outline what that recruitment ‘DNA’ is for the club at present, explaining that they are actively targeting “underrated, undervalued and hungry players.” He also stressed that younger players, ideally with a Queensland connection, was a key focus.
The emphasis on youth was a clear theme of our discussion, and Anderson was quick to point out the progress the club has made on the reinstatement of the Academy program, which was controversially shelved under the previous leadership.
“Our NPL and Under 23 squads will play in their respective NPL competitions this season , which is an important pathway to A-League football,” Anderson explained.
The Academy project was something Ben Cahn was originally brought in to oversee, and the club have doubled the number of Academy coaches since his arrival in October.
With Cahn being promoted to first team coach early than expected given the shock resignation of Aloisi, the Academy is now being overseen by Richard Greer.
Anderson also confirmed that Greer and his team will be instilling the same style of play and coaching philosophy as the first team, “so that the transition to that level is seamless.”
A new home?
Off the pitch, many Roar fans would say that a major focus for the club needs to be securing a long-term home for the team, ideally in a football only venue.
Although the move back to Suncorp this season has generally been received well, the pitch issues continue to be a talking point at a stadium where football still isn’t a priority.
Since commencing his role in July last year, Anderson has been rebuilding relationships with Government bodies and Football Queensland, and he was bullish about the long-term prospects for a new home.
“For the first time in quite a while there are plans to look at having a boutique football stadium in Brisbane. There’s enough football in Brisbane to justify this, and I genuinely believe it’s just a matter of time,’ he said.
That will be welcome news not only to long suffering Brisbane supporters, but also the players themselves, who still train at a multitude of venues during the week.
Whatever the progress off the pitch, it will be results on it that the Roar will be judged, and getting back to winning ways is undoubtedly a priority in the short term.
Their next opportunity comes against Newcastle Jets on Sunday, a game which will be played in Sydney’s Allianz stadium as part of the A-League’s inaugural UNITE round.
Securing three points, which could potentially leapfrog the men’s team back in to the top six depending on results elsewhere, would be a great way to kick-off the process of getting back to business.