Yesterday’s announcement that Perth Glory Coach Dave Mitchell would be stepping up from coach to a role as director of football, was one that surprised some and not others.
As the press waited for the Chairman Tony Sage and the outgoing coach and his assistant Ian Ferguson, the feeling was that Dave Mitchell’s sacking was about to be announced. When Tony Sage addressed the media it initially appeared that this was the case, until he advised that Mitchell had asked to step down.
There is no doubt that Dave Mitchell has a lot to offer football, but such a decision would tend to say that he has now turned his back on coaching, which many will feel is a great shame, as despite what a pocket of Glory fans may think his abilities are respected. Some will feel that he should have gone sooner; some will feel he should have stayed longer. There is no doubt the insecurity of a one year deal was like the sword of Damocles hanging over his head.Ultimately family security will always play a major part in anyone’s working life.
Being loyal to underperforming players was his biggest downfall this season. Trying to accommodate Robbie Fowler into a team that could not play to the former great’s strengths was one major problem, and if the fit did not work and it was detrimental to the team a change had to be made. Mile Sterjovski, underperformed last season as he was ‘carrying an injury,’ ‘settling into Perth’ and thinking about his Socceroos career and the World Cup. What is his excuse this season? Naum Sekulovski last season had his best for the club, showing a consistency that had held his career back in the past. Yet this season that consistency has gone. Hard decisions needed to be made, but the coach stuck by players and defended them, and one has to ask was that loyalty reciprocated?
But the biggest question now has to be where will he sit in the scheme of things? Is Perth Glory or any A League club big enough to warrant a Director of Football? There is no doubt that Dave Mitchell has put in place a professional coaching structure at the club that was desperately lacking. He has managed to bring over Wolverhampton Wanderers, he has enticed good quality players to Perth, which the club was unable to do in the past, and no doubt he can do that again; except this time the players will be signing for a piece of Ian Ferguson’s vision, not Dave Mitchell’s.
There is no real youth development at the club in terms of academies around town in the community. The Youth League team is a long way off being anywhere near the equivalent of a Youth development set up in Europe. Gareth Naven and Kenny Lowe have a good set up, but it is limited by Gareth being only part time, had the club taken him on as the Youth development officer as well as Youth team coach this may have been an ideal fit.
It will be interesting to see what the role entails and where he sits in the administration at the club. There is no doubt that this side of the club needs football people, people who know what the average punter feels and the support that players need to be able to perform to their best. It is not always down to training, physio, etcetera, often players need help settling into a new club, and his role may be able to assist in this area.
If thought through properly this could be a role that will benefit the club and the community immensely, because even though Tony Sage pays the bills the fans feel it is their club, and interaction with the local football community is still lacking, although the best it has been for many a year.
Time will tell but it would be nice to know what the parameters of the position are, for the other coaches as well as the fans. It has potential to take the club forward, but first Ian Ferguson has to get the team winning again.