The Queensland Champions Cup isn’t just an opportunity for Brisbane Roar to gauge their standard against Premier League opposition – it’s also a chance for coach Warren Moon to learn from two mentors he greatly admires.
The Cup kicks off on Thursday night on the Gold Coast when the Moon-coached Roar meet Leeds United.
The three-team tournament also includes Aston Villa, who take on Leeds on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium before playing the Roar next Wednesday night in Townsville.
For Moon, it’s a chance to square off against two highly regarded managers in Villa’s Steven Gerrard and Leeds’ Jesse Marsch.
“From a coach’s perspective you just want to grab some time with those coaches and talk football, and gain knowledge,” said 40-year-old Moon, who admitted to being a “huge fan” of Marsch, an American coach who had stints in Austria and Germany before taking charge of Leeds in February.
“What he’s done, his journey … he’s someone I have great admiration for.”
Moon and Marsch chatted following their teams’ training sessions on the Gold Coast on Wednesday.
Marsch was just as impressed with Moon and expected a “well-coached” Roar on Thursday night.
“We talked a little bit about the challenges he has, the challenges we have – he’s a serious guy and inquisitive,” the Leeds boss said.
“I love seeing people challenge themselves, have clear ideas, have teams that play in a very distinct manner and stay to the identity that they want to represent.
“Wherever you’re from, whatever style you have, if you can have an identity, that is inspiring.”
Leeds arrived in Queensland on the back of last season’s relegation dogfight that ended with Marsch’s men surviving.
“What’s been nice is to be able to work with the group in a way where we’re not under constant pressure to perform every weekend or every third day, and we can focus more on our process,” Marsch said.
“Working with this team and this club has brought a lot of passion out of me because the people are so great, the players are so adaptive and eager and hungry, and the potential for us to grow and have a really good season, we all are very hopeful and optimistic about.”
The Roar also had a poor 2021-22 campaign, finishing second last on the A-League ladder.
Moon said: “Last year was difficult for us … but we’ve got some great additions that have come in and we’re all keen to do well.”
Japanese midfielder Riku Danzaki, who has returned to the Roar, is set to play some part in Thursday night’s match, but another recent arrival, English striker Charlie Austin, won’t play.