Why Brisbane Roar big name duo had to go
Roar coach Robbie Fowler says keeping disgruntled pair Roy O'Donovan and Stefan Mauk at the club could have destabilised Brisbane's bid for A-League finals football.
Having started the season in the first team, Mauk and O'Donovan had their Roar contracts terminated in the final days of the January transfer window, allowing them to move to Adelaide United and the Newcastle Jets respectively.
O'Donovan's spectacular fall from grace in Brisbane was completed on Friday night in the dying stages of the window when returned to the Jets on an 18-month deal.
The 34-year-old marksman had only moved to Brisbane in June on a lucrative two-year-deal that made him the Roar's highest paid player.
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Fowler named O'Donovan the club's vice-captain, and the Irishman scored six goals in the Roar's opening nine games of the season before being dropped. He made just three more appearances off the bench before his departure.
"There were no problems with the lad whatsoever … it was never personal," Fowler said in explaining O'Donovan's exit.
"The way we were playing, I was honest with Roy that he wasn't going to play.
"You have to admire him for wanting to leave and not just sit on his arse.
"That's a good trait in a player. He's not happy sitting around and collecting his money."
Fowler expressed similar sentiments about midfielder Mauk, who has returned to Adelaide despite having signed a four-year deal with Brisbane in 2018.
"It's just football business. That's football life," the Liverpool legend said.
"My job as manager of Brisbane is to try to get the best for the team and the squad going forward.
"If you've got players who are not happy, and they want to play, sometimes the attitude of players can change, and it can have an adverse effect on the group."
The departures of Mauk and O'Donovan is expected to free about $700,000 of the Roar's salary cap for next season, allowing Fowler to boost his squad and/or upgrade existing player contracts.
"Players have departed who weren't necessarily going to play. If it helps us in the long run, we're happy," Fowler said.
The Roar remain in seventh spot on the ladder after their 1-0 away loss to competition leaders Sydney FC on Friday night.
Fowler was adamant that the Sky Blues should not been awarded the match-deciding penalty for a Scott Neville handball that also led to the Roar defender being sent off for a second bookable offence.
"I think it was a clear and obvious error," he said in believing referee Chris Beath made a mistake in awarding Sydney the penalty.
However, FFA referees adviser Strebre Delovski said Neville's arm was in an "unnatural position away from his body" and that the player had to be cautioned because it was a handball offence from a shot that was on target.