Tensions flare within Roar camp
Brisbane Roar assistant coach Jeff Hopkins admits the club is "not a happy place" as cracks start to appear at the A-League franchise following a dreadful start to their latest title defence.
Just seven months after winning a second consecutive grand final in thrilling fashion to be hailed the A-League's best-ever side, coach Rado Vidosic finds himself under the hammer.
Hopkins on Wednesday conceded there was bitterness within the dressing room after senior player Erik Paartalu openly criticised Vidosic.
Paartalu reacted badly to Vidosic's first outburst against the champions on Sunday where he labelled Brisbane's play against Central Coast as silly, naive and of a kindergarten standard.
While Hopkins stressed the tensions would be dealt with in-house as they attempt to rise from second last on the table, he said there was plenty of work to be done.
"It's not really a happy place but we're still a united place," Hopkins said.
"We all want the same thing; we want to get back on track, we want to work hard at getting more consistent performances.
"Look, I'd be lying if I said everyone is happy. We're not happy, we're at the wrong end of the league at the moment, but we're still a united change-room."
Hopkins defended Vidosic's initial comments, denying they were "over the top".
"He's the boss and was just trying to make his point," he said.
Paartalu had called for greater positivity from the coach, the Roar's long-time former assistant, who has struggled to continue the success predecessor Ange Postecoglou enjoyed.
A member of the leadership group, Paartalu said the club needed to "stick together".
"I think everyone needs to remember that - coach, manager, staff included," he told fourfourtwo.com. "Blaming people, making accusations and negative comments isn't going to get anybody anywhere."
Paartalu's attack also comes after talk of a bust-up between Vidosic and Mitch Nichols which resulted in the midfielder being dumped for their 4-2 victory over Sydney FC almost two weeks ago.
That and the 5-0 thrashing of Postecoglou's new club, Melbourne Victory, are the only two wins the Roar have enjoyed under Vidosic, hailed as the "brains" behind their 2010-11 and 2011-12 success by star import Thomas Broich just last month.
Vidosic and Brisbane's players were off limits to the media on Wednesday as they prepared for Saturday night's home clash with Newcastle.
Paartalu also called for young Japanese defender Yuji Takahashi to be selected against the Jets after being overlooked so far this season.
Meantime, Hopkins wants match officials to give fiery striker Besart Berisha protection after Newcastle skipper Jobe Wheelhouse said they would aim to get under the Albanian international's skin.
"For someone to come out and say the focus of the game is going to be to wind up one of our players to try and tip them over the edge is disappointing," he said.