Rado Vidosic steps into the Brisbane top job, with some big shoes to fill.
Replacing Ange Postecoglou is no mean feat, given the obvious influence he has had in overhauling the club both stylistically and structurally. The challenge for Vidosic will be to live up to the expectations that are now clearly established at Brisbane. Fortunately, his job will be made easier by the work of his predecessor.
Firstly, Postecoglou has laid the foundations for a system to be completely integrated and established into the culture of Brisbane Roar. The short passing and high pressing system that has become the hallmark of the champions is geared for success, and no tactical innovation is required in terms of playing style. This was by and large acknowledged by Vidosic himself in an interview with The World Game. “It would be suicidal to change anything,” he said. “We have developed a game that really works and which makes it so hard to compete against.”
It is clear that Brisbane wants their playing identity to remain bigger than the manager, as Vidosic attests: “The club does not want to make changes to our playing style and that is the reason they have been talking to me.” This form of internal promotion is a path that has been barely trodden in the A-League, largely due to the fact that no other club has a discernible system of play. The identity that Postecoglou has established simply allows Vidosic, who has already been closely integrated into the development of the system, to step up and merely tweak, rather than overhaul, which was the task that Postecoglou faced when he first arrived.
Internal promotion is system of club management that remains obscure, and while the best example is probably Barcelona with Pep Guardiola, there remains a lack of a culture at any top European club where identity rules the club. Brisbane Roar must buck the trend in the A-League. On face value, the signs don’t look promising as the last internal promotion was Mehmet Durakovic, whose tenure ended in disaster, but it would remiss to overlook the difference between the se tup at Brisbane and Victory.
Despite what seems such great change in Brisbane, things have remained largely the same. The side hasn’t pursued a marquee name, nor performed any major surgery on the squad: instead, consistency has been the key, epitomised by the new contracts signed by six key members of the squad, including captain Matt Smith and influential playmaker Thomas Broich.
This will have come as be a big relief for Vidosic, as there are several players who perform certain functions within the Roar system that one would struggle to replace. Erik Paartalu’s positional and tactical sense in the holding midfielder role would be an extremely difficult thing to replace (hence why Roar fans are so keen to see rumours of a move to the UAE remain as rumours), as would be the work ethic and finishing skills of Besart Berisha.
Despite the positives that Vidosic can look forward to as mentioned above, the task of taking over Brisbane remains a daunting one. It was a common theme amongst commentators on the Roar last season that despite their eventual success, they often seemed under-par and below their flowing best. It will be Vidosic’s challenge to invigorate the playing group, and tactically speaking, ever so slightly innovate their playing style as to remain one step ahead of the chasing pack. Key to this will be Vidosic’s experience at the Roar, having been an assistant at the club since the club’s inauguration.
Signs in early pre-season indicated that Vidosic wanted to change Brisbane’s formation away from the 4-3-3 towards 4-2-3-1, stating “the only change that we are going to do for these next two games is that we go from two number 10s to two number sixes.” In practice, Vidosic has simply inverted the midfield triangle, and the shield of a midfield duo will provide greater cover to a defence weakened by the departure of Mohammed Adnan, although it will limit the influence metronome Erik Paartalu will have over a game. “I’m used to getting 60-100 touches a game, said the midfielder, “now I’m going to have to limit that now with the formation change.” A 4-2-3-1 would also shift Thomas Broich into a more central position higher up the pitch, which was an effective move in last season’s grand final.
He would presumably be flanked by new signings Ben Halloran and Do Dong-Hyun, who will offer pace and width. That will make Brisbane’s style more direct, and the focus will be on ensuring the wingers receive the ball quickly and to feet. Other options on the wing include shifting Broich out wide and introducing Mitch Nicholls into the hole, or Nick Fitzgerald, who impressed in small cameos last season with his clever, intelligent passing. Vidosic also appears more relaxed in his approach to freedom on the pitch: where Postecoglou drilled his players in specific patterns of play, Vidosic is more willing to provide greater creative licence.
These changes aside, the look and feel of the Roar should remain fairly constant. With a number of sides looking to emulate their system, the focus will firmly be on ensuring they remain the standard bearers.
One door closes, another one opens. Postecoglou’s challenge at his new club will remain one of the more fascinating developments next season, yet the Roar he leaves behind will be writing their own new chapter which promises to be just as captivating.
Edited from an original post on the Ultimate A-League blog