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Mulvey’s departure seems short-sighted, premature

krisop

What a difference a weekend makes eh?

Friday: Sure, your team isn’t doing great, but they’re coming off a 4-0 win against Newcastle, and put up a valiant defeat against Melbourne.

Saturday: Looking at the tape, there’s patches of improvement and you can see that there are positives on the horizon.

Sunday: You turn on the news to find out that you’re sacked with no word from your employer, then the phone rings and by the evening you’ve been reported to have “stepped down” from the job.

One could forgive me for having a sense of schadenfreude about the situation — being a man with a Purple and Orange heart, as I am — but once the facts were made public and the Brisbane Roar PR machine began firing its engines, I could not help but feel sorry for the former Roar coach.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that I personally do not think that Mulvey stepped down in any uncertain circumstances.

Six months prior, the enigmatic manager had turned around the previous season’s form slump and engineered a championship winning team.

They were set to participate in the 2015 edition of the Asian Champions League as one of the red hot hopes from Australia, alongside fellow under-performers on the local stage (at least this season) in the Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Wanderers have, like the Roar, performed below-par so far this season, however coach Tony Popovic has the ace up of his sleeve of being the only Australian coach to lead an A-League side to the Champions League crown.

Despite having a worse record, though, Mike Mulvey has been shown the door, to the contempt of Roar fans around the country, with some threatening to turn in their season tickets.

CEO Sean Dobson was quoted as telling SBS:

“We made the decision to part company with Mike Mulvey based on the football style and philosophy of the club.

“Those are the key tenets in terms of how we approach the game. The strength of the club off the field in terms of the support from chairman Chris Fong and the Bakrie Group means we can make a hard decision such as this for the benefit of the club.

“It’s about looking to the medium and the long-term and not having a regard for the financial implications … we accept the responsibility that comes with these decisions and just want the fans to continue to support the lads out on the field.”

If that entire diatribe hurt your brain too, you’re not alone my fellow football connoisseurs. So, let’s break that down into the core parts of the statement:

“We made the decision to part company with Mike Mulvey based on the football style and philosophy of the club.

Granted, this isn’t the “Roarcelona” of yesteryear.

But what people need to realise is that “Roarcelona” was what it became because of Ange Postecoglou and his tactics – not those of Mulvey.

Mulvey carved a whole different dimension of play into his side, taking some from the Postecoglou era and shaping his own vision into the club, after plying his trade in the W-League and with the double-championship winning Gold Coast United youth league team.

It took time, and the Roar limped into the finals in 2012/13 after Mulvey pulled their season out of the ashes following a disastrous start under Rado Vidosic.

‘Mulbane 1.0′ was a unit that made do with its departures but also relied heavily on the exploits of their foreign contingent, particularly Besart Berisha and Thomas Broich.

In 2013/14, ‘Mulbane 2.0′ saw its first full pre-season under Mulvey, and strengthened in key areas that served to the manager’s vision.

Defensive midfielder Liam Miller, Stephen Lustica and club talisman Matt McKay all found a home in Brisbane, as well as Dimitri Petratos, Diogo Ferreira and exciting products like Kwame Yeboah being promoted into the starting lineup.

The ’2.0′ side barnstormed the competition and, in a strong field, managed to secure the chocolates and the plaudits of being the most successful side in A-League history.

Enter version 3.0 of the Roar under Mulvey.

Naturally, it was going to be hard to find a replacement for Besart Berisha, as his signing alone was one of complete prodigy.

Losing Ivan Franjic was also a huge blow on the right hand side, as the Roar had thrived on their wing play in recent years.

Michael Theo, a man who marshals his defence with gusto and dominance, has been sidelined with injury forcing his less-experienced deputy Jamie Young into the fray.

Can you blame the side for not having the best of starts, just six games into a season, when they’re still trying to find their feet?

“The strength of the club off the field in terms of the support from chairman Chris Fong and the Bakrie Group means we can make a hard decision such as this for the benefit of the club”

It does make me wonder if the Bakries (the owners of Brisbane Roar) were off enjoying a cold Bintang or two when they made this decision.

You see myself and a large proportion of the football public see this as a no-brainer: A man with success and trophies at all levels of Australian football (including Youth, W-League and A-League) should be held on to.

Letting him go doesn’t benefit the Roar at all.

And let’s not forget that the ‘strong position off the field’ was aided by none other than Mulvey and his players, with this decision serving to weaken  the Bakrie’s reputation on off-field matters.

“It’s about looking to the medium and the long-term and not having a regard for the financial implications”

This to me smacks of absolute rubbish.

Mulvey comes with credentials in the development of youth and was on par with Ange Postecoglou in developing a system in which young Queensland talent were making their way into the starting lineup, and onto bigger and better things.

How does sacking a man with these qualifications appropriate ‘looking to the medium and the long-term’ for the club?

This, to me, is arguably one of the most short-sighted decisions in the history of the club!

But I think that arguably the most embarrassing part of this saga comes from the email that was sent out to their own fans to explain the situation, after a deplorable media leak that meant Mulvey knew that he was walking into a ‘managerial obituary’ on Sunday.

Included in the email were the following lines:

“Head Coach Mike Mulvey met with Brisbane Roar FC management today.  As a result, he will step down from the Head Coach’s position,” Dobson said.

“Brisbane Roar FC thanks Mike Mulvey for his contribution to the success of the club since his appointment as interim coach in December 2012 and as Brisbane Roar Head Coach in February 2013.

“As Head Coach, Mike Mulvey guided Brisbane Roar to the Hyundai A-League 2013/14 Premiers’ Plate, winning the league by 10 points, before securing an historic Grand Final win on May 4, 2014 against Western Sydney Wanderers.”

Mr Dobson said as a result of a review by the Brisbane Roar FC board, which began immediately following the Hyundai A-League 2013/14 season and included the first games of the club’s 2014/15 title defence, Mulvey was today informed he would no longer hold the position of Head Coach.

“The board review of all Brisbane Roar FC football operations was conducted in line with Brisbane Roar’s commitment to continual improvement,” Dobson said.

The release reads as if this is a clear as crystal, by the book review that any one of the ten A-League clubs would similarly undertake.

Mulvey was supposedly ‘informed’ he would no longer hold the position of Head Coach. But this wasn’t clear as crystal or by the book at all, and has only served to be portrayed to the football fraternity as an execution on a public scale.

Arguably, it is this quote here that the Bakrie Group will have to live with:

“The board review of all Brisbane Roar FC football operations was conducted in line with Brisbane Roar’s commitment to continual improvement”

If the Roar don’t ‘continue to improve’ then they may have blood on their hands in the form of cutting Mulvey’s tenure prematurely short.

Former Dutch international Frans Thijssen takes the helm on an interim basis, but sadly lacks the track record of managerial success that Mulvey had, and could only be assessed as a risk at this point. He’s even gone so far as to say that the job will be incredibly difficult, given he doesn’t know the team, the competition or the players.

While I wish the Dutchman the best of luck, it will not be a job that is easy to undertake, and turning around the club’s fortunes will have to be his first task of undertaking.

With a 54.15% career ‘result’ record under Mulvey, though, Thijssen will need to find himself batting above that average or perhaps he too might see a similar end to his tenure.

Let’s hope for his sake that the next review doesn’t arrive in six games time.

About the author

avatarKris is a freelance sports journalist, a two-time WA media guild award winner, and podcast host and writer for Ultimate A-League.

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