Aloisi: My Roar has never been better
TEN months of meticulous planning gets put to the test on Sunday when Brisbane Roar open their 2018-19 A-League season at Suncorp Stadium against Central Coast Mariners.
Roar coach John Aloisi says he has never had a better squad at his disposal since taking charge of the club in 2015.
It's a squad he starting piecing together in December last year in the midst of one of the Roar's worst periods.
While he had not written off the club's 2017-18 campaign - and with good reason after a late surge earnt Brisbane a finals berth - Aloisi was certain the following season would be better, provided he got the necessary support.
And having been backed by the club in terms of improved facilities and a revamped medical program,
Aloisi went about bringing to Brisbane the fresh faces he wanted to complement the likes of French marquee man Eric Bautheac,
Danish enforcer Thomas Kristensen, no-nonsense defender Avraam Papadopoulos and arguably the competition's best goalkeeper Jamie Young.
One by one the new blood arrived.
Striker Adam Taggart, who played for Australia at the 2014 World Cup, could not wait to link with former Socceroos stalwart Aloisi.
Neither could 23-year-old attacking midfielder Stefan Mauk, who could turn out to be Aloisi's shrewdest piece of off-season business.
Include other off-season recruits in Danish winger Tobias Mikkelsen, emerging pair Stefan Nigro and Dylan Wenzel-Halls, and late pre-season arrival, the silky Spaniard Alex Lopez, and Aloisi is the "happiest" he has been with a squad in his time at the Roar.
"I said to the players the other day that this is the best squad we've had, and that's no disrespect to anyone we've had in the past," Aloisi told The Sunday Mail.
"In terms of the overall squad, the fight for positions, the difference in personnel, the age … we've got a really good balance.
"We're ready to go ¬ I can't wait."
Former Glory marksman Taggart, whose goals will have a huge bearing in the Roar's title chances, said working under Aloisi was a dream come true.
"John's got a lot of belief in me and that's the person I want to play under," former A-League Golden Boot winner Taggart said.
"We do a lot of video stuff, just me and him, and we have a lot of dialogue.
"He loves goals and so do I. It's good to have a coach that's so attacking-based because most of the clubs don't have centre-forwards as coaches.
"He's a role model to all of us. We want to work hard for him because he works hard for us."
Despite Aloisi's confidence about the Roar's title chances this season, he's not about to underestimate the Mariners, last season's wooden spooners.
Now coached by former Brisbane championship-winning mentor Mike Mulvey, the revamped Mariners line-up includes ex-Roar prodigy Tommy Oar and prolific ex-Melbourne City marksman Ross McCormack.
"They've got good attacking players, a lot of weapons going forward," Aloisi said.
"It's up to us to stop their qualities and pick on their weaknesses."
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