No one has rated them, but Brisbane Roar coach Warren Moon doesn’t care.
Having taken over following the fallout between the Roar and Liverpool great Robbie Fowler in 2020, the unheralded Moon has steered the club to back-to-back A-League Men’s finals campaigns.
Both of those seasons have ended at the first hurdle with a 2-1 home loss to Adelaide United in the first week of finals in June a bitter pill for Moon and his team to swallow.
Having taken on the role amid the competition’s initial COVID shutdown and then dealing with a constantly changing situation last season, Moon believes he is better prepared than he’s ever been heading into the 2021-22 campaign.
“We’re not out of the woods in terms of what’s happening with COVID (but) this is probably the most normal it’s been since I’ve had the role because obviously when I took over the role was not normal,” Moon told AAP.
“It’s actually nice to just turn up and have a bit of stability in terms of us training and where we’re at.
“So far in my tenure this is the most relaxed I’ve been.
“We’ve got everything ticking boxes. Where we’re training. What we’re doing.
“We’ve got everyone here pulling in the same direction, for the right reasons, and there’s a happy change room and a happy staff as well.”
Player turnover has been high ever since Moon took over at the Roar, with just three of Fowler’s initial band of recruits remaining in captain Tom Aldred, Irish playmaker Jay O’Shea and experienced defender Scott Neville.
Ex-Socceroos forward Scott McDonald left before the end of last season and has been joined in the departure lounge this off-season by fan favourites Jamie Young and Dylan Wenzel-Halls.
English defender Macaulay Gillesphey is back in his homeland with Plymouth Argyle while last season’s top-scorer Riku Danzaki has returned to Japan after the Roar were unable to extend his loan deal into a second season.
In their place, the Roar have recruited experienced Argentine forward Juan Lescano, speedy former Adelaide winger Nikola Mileusnic, German midfielder Matti Steinmann and young Sydney FC product Luke Ivanovic.
NPL Queensland young player of the year Jez Lofthouse has also signed on, hoping to emulate the path of fellow Queensland products Alex Parsons and Cyrus Dehmie by breaking into Moon’s first team.
“On both occasions I believe the Roar’s been written off as finals contenders,” Moon said of his time in charge.
“We’ve made finals last two seasons. We know where we’re at as a club.
“We’ve tried to recruit smart. We’ve tried to get what can best suit the environment that we work in.
“We hope again that what we try and do heading into next season will be successful and will get us into the finals.
“Once we’re there, hopefully we learn the lessons from the past two seasons.
“Both semi-final losses, we can point to key moments in the match where we felt we could have done better and hopefully the next time, if we get an opportunity, we get it over the line and get into the next phase and see where it takes us.”