Brisbane Roar coach Mike Mulvey has been clumsily sacked just six months after steering the A-League club to the premiership-championship double.
Mulvey, last season’s coach of the year, paid for his team’s dreadful start to their title defence, with five losses and just one win from their first six matches, when he became the first coach axed this season.
Roar managing director Sean Dobson announced Mulvey’s sacking on Sunday evening, saying it followed a board review of the club’s off-season activities – presumably including disappointing recruiting following some big departures – as well as the team’s season start.
“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 in a statement.
Former Netherlands international Frans Thijssen was reportedly in line to replace Mulvey, possibly in an interim role, but Dobson shed no light on that, saying the club would make no further comment on Sunday.
Dobson’s confirmation came only after five hours of speculation following a report that Mulvey had been axed.
A bemused Mulvey initially told SBS: “I’ve had lots of texts and phone calls enlightening me with news of my supposed demise.”
Mulvey was given a two-year contract extension after last season’s twin A-League triumphs.
But earlier this month, he was put on notice by club chairman Chris Fong following the 3-1 home loss to Melbourne City which left them 0-4 and last on the ladder.
Fong revealed the club’s Indonesian owners, the Bakrie Group, were conducting an offshore review of the club’s poor start and off-season.
Fong had previously indicated the club would eventually hire a foreign coach.
The Roar have struggled to score following the off-season loss of star striker Besart Berisha to Melbourne Victory while the departure of Socceroos defender Ivan Franjic to Russia has coincided with problems in defence.
Rumours of dressing room disharmony emerged as the Roar struggled in their early games.
It appears the Roar’s 1-0 loss to Melbourne Victory on Friday was the final straw for the coach – and ironically Berisha contributed to that when his header led to an own-goal by Brisbane defender Jade North.
The 62-year-old Thijssen has filled assistant and youth team coaching roles in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar in recent years but previously held head coach roles with Swedish club Malmo and Dutch clubs Vitesse, De Graafschap and Fortuna Sittard.
In a playing career spanning two decades he was capped 14 times for The Netherlands.
Mulvey, who had a brief spell in charge of now defunct Gold Coast United, took over the top job at the Roar from Rado Vidosic in December 2012, guiding the then-faltering champions into a finals berth, before orchestrating the Roar’s third title-winning campaign in four seasons last term.