Besart Berisha’s surprising decision to leave Brisbane Roar, the club where he has become an icon, to join Melbourne Victory next season could have a detrimental effect on the ladder leaders in their current campaign.
The Albanian striker, arguably the most potent hit-man in A-League history, is a consummate professional, and is unlikely to let his imminent move affect his current form.
If anything he will be more driven to go out a winner at the club he has called home since 2011.
What could affect Brisbane’s title chances is the way the team’s fans react to Berisha jumping ship to join forces with a direct rival.
The 28-year-old import may be a professional, but he is also a notorious hot head. If the Suncorp Stadium crowd, or an element of the crowd, decide to boo and jeer him, there is a strong possibility that he will react negatively.
He has been known to take out his frustrations on rivals and referees, earning himself red cards and suspensions in the process.
Such a situation has the potential to snowball to such an extent that Berisha’s position in the side could soon become untenable. That would not only mean the Roar losing their top marksman, it would also cause disruption to a campaign that has until now been notable for its harmonious precision.
The first question that some raised upon hearing the news of Berisha’s departure in search of a bigger wage package, was would he even be picked in the Roar side for the remainder of the season?
Coach Mike Mulvey, speaking to Fox Sports News, has already addressed that.
“One thing I know categorically is that this won’t affect what we are trying to achieve this season,” the Manchester-born coach said.
“I have every confidence in Besart’s ability to control the distractions.
“I think probably now that he’s sorted out his future past the end of the season, we’ll see a resurgence of his goal-scoring feats for the orange shirt.
“Besart is a committed individual, and one thing he is, he’s a winner, and he wants to make sure he gives his all.
“So he’s committed, there’ll be absolutely no danger to our dressing room, I can guarantee that.”
Outside of the confines of the dressing room, however, there are elements outside of the manager and players’ control; namely, how the Roar faithful will react.
If their sense of betrayal outweighs their adoration for a player who has given so much to the club, there may be a certain amount of vitriol directed at the forward.
The first test of the supporters’ mood will come on Friday night, when Brisbane take on Wellington Phoenix on home turf.
But the situation could remain on a knife’s edge for the rest of the season.
Should the goals dry up for Berisha, for whatever reason, there is a risk that some fans could blame the perceived distraction of his imminent move.
They could, of course, maintain the faith in their talismanic striker and offer unbridled support for the rest of the campaign.
Football fans are passionate, and often unpredictable. How the Roar faithful respond to this hammer blow to their club could influence how smoothly the rest of the 2013/14 season plays out.