By Dan Orlowitz
Following a rigorous 2011-2012 campaign that included a successful defence of the club's A-League championship and a busy travel schedule in the Asian Champions League, one would not blame newly-appointed Brisbane Roar manager Rado Vidosic for wanting to take a vacation.
As it turns out, the long-time Roar assistant did add some new stamps to his passport. But instead of a remote island with sandy beaches and gentle waves, Vidosic's destination was the capital of Japan, where he spent a week observing the J-League alongside FC Tokyo manager Ranko Popovic, who - like Vidosic - was born in the former Yugoslavia.
Vidosic was already familiar with Tokyo, having seen his Roar play - and lose to - the capital city club twice in the AFC Champions League [ACL]. And in an exclusive interview with Goal.com, the 51-year-old revealed the fruit that his voyage bore.
"I came here to learn a bit more about Japanese football, and I think I've managed to see that," Vidosic said on Wednesday following FC Tokyo's 1-0 loss to Kashiwa Reysol. "I've had a chance to see Reysol, Tokyo, and Cerezo Osaka [in person].
"Cerezo was coached by a Brazilian manager, and so was Reysol, and you could see the influence of the Brazilian style. Tokyo has a European coach, so it's a little bit different. I think this mixture of different styles is the beauty of Japan's football at the moment."
Vidosic stressed the importance of his discussions with Popovic, who has spent the past three years managing Japanese clubs.
"When you watch the game on TV you don't realise what the roles and responsibilities of each players are, so until you speak to the coach and you find out that was the game plan, that someone comes in or overlaps, then you really know what they're doing," he said.
|"It's a bit of an eye opener because you'd think [J-League clubs] are a little more advanced and they aren't; just a bit technically better than us"
- Rado Vidosic
"Sometimes they make the same mistakes we make in Australia, so it's good to see that sometimes they have to do the opposite of their game plan. It's a bit of an eye opener because you'd think they are a little more advanced and they aren't; just a bit technically better than us."
As the A-League enters its eighth season hoping to recover from controversy over its failed Gold Coast United franchise, Vidosic praised the crowd at Tokyo National Stadium, which saw in excess of 25,000 fans despite the game falling on a weeknight. But when asked what the A-League required to bring in similar numbers, Vidosic was blunt in his assessment.
"We're only seven years old, the J-League is 20 years old; that's a big difference," Vidosic explained. "We're seven or eight years behind them from a technical perspective, but once we get our base sorted out it won't take us too long to match them and play on equal footing with them week in and week out."
One arena in which the Roar and other Australian clubs will struggle in order to compete is the ACL, which calls for a harsh regimen of midweek travel.
"Adelaide travelled in the group stage to Uzbekistan, and it was a 24-hour trip," Vidosic pointed out when asked about the the demands of the competition. "Sometimes it's okay if you're playing in the capital cities, because you land and you don't have to go to another part of Japan or Korea, so we were quite fortunate.
"[Scheduling] football [in Australia] is very difficult because we share fields with rugby and rugby union, so our competition depends on the availability of the stadiums. I think the FFA is doing their best to accommodate ACL clubs but sometimes it's out of their control."
With expectations heavy on the Roar to continue the success they found under manager Ange Postecoglou, Vidosic feels little pressure.
“We're going to treat it as just another season and improve our performances from a defensive and attacking point of view,” Vidosic promised.
“It's not the brand-new Brisbane Roar, it's Brisbane Roar 2.0. It's the next edition.”