Mulvey’s Roar looks to cover its losses
ABOUT to begin the defence of its A-League title without the most lethal striker to play for the club, it's hardly surprising Brisbane Roar's build-up to the 2014/15 season hasn't excited too many fans.
Armed with a revised playing roster featuring a new overseas striker, coach Mike Mulvey heads into his second A-League season under even more pressure to prove his victory last season with the Roar was no fluke.
Mulvey was blessed to inherit the A-League's star pair, German Thomas Broich and fiery Albanian Besart Berisha, when he stepped into the shoes of current Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou half-way through the 2012/13 A-League season.
With Berisha now the marquee man at Melbourne Victory, Mulvey will rely on another Albanian sharpshooter, Mensur Kurtishi, to lead the charge in season 2014/15 which was officially launched yesterday.
Kurtishi (pictured) showed his potential by slotting five goals in the Roar's 10-0 thrashing of Brisbane club side Olympic FC earlier this month.
Mulvey said it was more important to bring in players who had the right character, rather than throw big dollars at someone who lacked the commitment.
"They have to be of the right character and fit in with the culture at the football club," Mulvey said.
"Sometime when you bring someone to your club like Mensur from Europe, you have to give them time to acclimatise and develop. He's got an opportunity now and it's the same for whoever takes the field on Sunday.
"The demands of our fans are that we play with a swagger, but the core thing is that we work hard and play as a team first."
And betting agencies are backing Mulvey's strategy to pay dividends, Tattsbet installing the Roar equal favourite at $5.50 to defend its title despite the loss of not only Berisha, but also Socceroos midfielder Ivan Franjic to Torpedo Moscow.
With several clubs strengthening their rosters significantly during the off-season, notably the newly-branded Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC, it's hardly surprising the bookies are finding it difficult to separate the likely contenders.
After luring former Spanish international David Villa to Melbourne for a 10-week guest stint, City is also at the head of betting at $5.50, while Victory ($6), Western Sydney ($6.50), Adelaide United ($6.50) and Sydney FC ($6.50) are all expected to be highly-competitive.
Joining an attack that includes Archie Thompson and Kiwi marksman Kosta Barbarouses, Berisha will be in action when the Victory kicks off the season on Friday night with Western Sydney at Etihad Stadium.
Brisbane opens its campaign with a clash against Adelaide United on Sunday.