A huge season appears to be in prospect for Jake Brimmer as the young midfielder looks to add more goals and greater influence in the engine-room to the promising signs he showed in what was his debut Hyundai A-League campaign last year.
And when we caught up with the 20-year-old immediately after an intense training session played out in cold and windy conditions, he was beaming.
“How good was that session?!”he enthused.
“There’s a real buzz around the squad now; you can see that everyone is enjoying it.”
The Melburnian recently returned from a five-day Olyroos invitational camp overseen by Graham Arnold and Sir Alex Ferguson’s former right-hand man, Renee Meulensteen and he clearly relished every minute of it.
“It was great, I really enjoyed it,” he said. “It was an intense camp, we had triple sessions every day, but I definitely got a lot out of the whole experience.
“We were working with Renee [Meulensteen], who was such a crucial part of Ferguson’s coaching staff for so many years at United, so there was plenty of experience there, which meant we learnt so much. I think myself, Brandon [Wilson] and the rest of the boys within the squad got a lot out of it.”
Brimmer was also quick to note that the camp proved a significant source of inspiration for the upcoming A-League season, as well as serving as a reminder of where he wants to be in the coming years.
“These sorts of camps remind you of where you need to be on a mental and physical level,” he said. “We were told at the start that we’ve now got the chance to be at the World Cup in four years’ time, so we were encouraged to keep working hard as you never know where you’ll end up by the time that opportunity comes around.”
It’s been a rather eventful couple months of pre-season for the former Liverpool Academy player, with the Olyroos camp following an unforgettable night at Optus Stadium where he lined against the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Ross Barkley and Jorginho in Glory’s high-profile clash with Chelsea.
“It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” he said. “It was definitely the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of, with about 55,000 people there and I thought I did well when I came on as we enjoyed a strong second-half. It was an unbelievable night.
“It was another massive reminder to me of where I want to end up as a player and where I want to take my career. Playing against those world-class players was huge for me. I managed to get Fabregas’ shirt, a World Cup, Champions League and Premier League -winner, which I’ve framed up on the wall at home now.
“I think the biggest lesson I gained from playing against them and continuing to watch them is learning when to play the ball, when to speed the play up and when to calm things down. [Tony] Popovic has been great in that sense as well; he’s teaching me when to up the tempo and control things, which I’ve really taken on board.”
Brimmer is clearly eager to keep developing his game and after gaining invaluable experience in the A-League last season, he’s determined to improve upon his 18 appearances, which included four starts.
“It’s a big season ahead for me,” he said. “I need to work hard and play as many games as I can to impress both sets of coaches in Arnold and, of course, Popovic.
“Last season was a big learning curve for me. I didn’t get to where I wanted to be in terms of fitness and the rhythm of the game. But the start of this pre-season, I’ve started to come out of my shell, which the boss has really helped me with, so I’m gaining a lot of confidence and showing people what I’m capable of. I can’t wait to continue this and show what I can do in the A-League.”
One theme that has been mentioned consistently by almost every coach and player at the club since Popovic’s arrival has been the ‘winning mentality’ and it’s this attitude that Brimmer believes has been pivotal to the quality seen on the training track on a daily basis so far.
“You could see how much it meant each time we scored and when we won during the scratch match at training today,” he said.
“If you aren’t showing the heart to win, then why play football? If it doesn’t hurt to lose, then what’s the point? That’s an attitude shared by all of us under Popovic.
“But it’s not just the winning mentality that he’s instilled; he’s also helped me improve fitness-wise and diet-wise a lot. It’s not just how you train, it’s how you take care of yourself off the park as well and I’m definitely appreciating that a lot more now.”