AFTER tonight's top-of-the-table clash with Western Sydney Wanderers, everyone will see just how far the Brisbane Roar has moved on under coach Mike Mulvey.
We will also see how far Mulvey has come as a coach.
Like most people, I knew little about the Roar mentor when he took over as interim coach at Brisbane in December 2012, before being handed the job permanently the following February.
It wasn't long after his appointment that a banner at Suncorp Stadium read "Mulvey Out".
But under the new man the Roar would only lose one more of its seven regular-season games last season before eventually going down 2-0 to Western Sydney in the A-League semi-final at a packed Parramatta Stadium.
Mulvey admitted that some of his younger players were intimidated in that game, so it will be a test of his coaching skills to see if they can come out on top this time.
Like I said, I did not know much about Mulvey, but I have been impressed by what I have seen in his year in charge.
He always seems to say the right things in interviews, even if that means handing out a roasting if it's deserved.
Mulvey comes across as a calm character and that seems to have conveyed itself to his team, which has shown in the past two weeks that it has the grit to fight back and win games it could easily have lost.
His tactics, too, have impressed and earlier this week Roar captain Matt Smith gave an insight into just what his Manchester-born mentor was trying to get across to his players.
"We always play the same way away from home as we do at home," he said.
"We will go down there and go for the win, that's the only way we know how to play.
"We're not going to be a team that plays counter-attack football."
Just like Mulvey, Smith always seems to talk a good game.
But as we all know, football is a results-driven business and Roar fans will not accept anything other than an A-League title to go with the two won under Ange Postecoglou.
Victory tonight will put the Roar 10 points clear of the Wanderers and make the boys from Brisbane a shoo-in for the Premier's Plate which Western Sydney won last year.
But Mulvey and his team will want more than that and only an A-League crown would suffice, I suggest.
Mulvey has shown so far that he can motivate and tactically get a team right to win games in the regular season.
But with finals fast approaching, it is time for him to prove his mettle and show just how far he and his team has progressed.
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