Trying to portray an image of correctness Perth Glory appear to have once more shot themselves in the foot. On the 20th of December they appointed Kenny Lowe as the Interim Head Coach for the remainder of the 2013/14 Hyundai A-League season after Alistair Edwards and the club parted ways.
At the time club CEO Jason Brewer stated ““We want to ensure that we undertake a thorough and highly professional search process to identify the most suitable candidate for the permanent position of head coach. We want to make this very important decision with a view to ensuring a path for sustained success in the long term.” That all sounded extremely promising.
No decision was going to be made quickly and fans became concerned that the club was waiting until the end of the season to make such a decision, a time when players coming out of contract are already talking to other clubs and negotiating deals. In the January transfer window the club made three new signings which many found strange when the club was waiting to appoint a new coach, Rostyn Griffiths arrived along with Lithuanian International striker Davydas Sernas and Serbian midfielder Nebojša Marinkovic. Sernas was signed until the end of the season, while Marinkovic and Griffiths were signed until the end of 2014/15.
In February at a Fan Forum the club advised members that a “formal process to identify, select and contract the best permanent candidate” was underway. They were also shown the application document in a powerpoint presentation.
Sadly once again through this recruitment process the club has ended up sending mixed messages to the fans, in the main once again due to the Chairman of the club contradicting his Chief Executive. They have also according to some applicants as of last week not advised them that they were unsuccessful. Having started the process to find a head coach almost fourth months ago and being told that the club had received over 50 application from Australia and overseas, many expected a new face, and not the man who had stepped in to steer the club through the stormy waters of the last season to be given the role. That is why the announcement yesterday was met with a great deal of disappointment. Many fans it is believed calling the club to air their views and vent their frustrations.
By all accounts it was a final decision between Kenny Lowe and Spanish coach Albert Roca who was assistant to Frank Rijkaard at Barcelona, Galatasaray and with the national team of Saudi Arabia
One has to feel for Kenny Lowe. He understandably put his hand up for the role believing that he was good enough to do the job, just as many anyone does when they apply for any job. He did not make the decision to be head coach, but the Glory’s panel of six did. He should not be lambasted for being the successful candidate, purely because he was the one chosen.
Lowe himself has admitted he was surprised to land the role when he said at the press conference “I’m surprised. At the end of the day I’m not really high profile, but I think I’ve got qualities that will allow me to do well. So I’m looking forward to the challenge and it’s a big challenge.’’
It is a big challenge. Of that there can be no doubt, and once again being only given a two year tenure in the role, and being expected to bring through young local talent and make the A-League finals and the Asian Champions League is a massive ask. This shows that the club has not learned from previous mistakes. In order to give the club stability they need to give the coach security of a longer term, even if the exit clause sees him only receive a set amount rather than then amount left on the term of his contract.
“We had candidates that matched Kenny’s talent, but none matched his passion, and I believe that is what we need more of in this club.’’ CEO Jason Brewer stated, this in itself is a worry to many. How does one define passion? People show it in different ways, some will read watch and talk football 24 house a day, but have a quiet demeanour. Others show that passion through physical actions and words. As one wag wrote on social media, “My mum is a passionate lady, so she must have been in the running.”
Lowe will know that recruitment is going to be crucial to determine his future. After the club was beaten 3-0 last month by Western Sydney Wanderers he stated “I think it showed today that we’re not good enough. The young boys are not ready.” Yet part of the job criteria is that he must “develop a first team squad that is made up of at least 35% of home grown players that throughout the course of the season are provided with opportunities to develop into first team players at Perth Glory.” In addition he must “support the reduction of playing staff budget and playing staff number (sic) in accordance with directions from the CEO and the club’s board.”
Lowe has admitted he did not believe he was a front runner for the post, and that may have led to him being more relaxed than his fellow candidates when interviewed. As one of the four points in the job description states “The right candidate will be a leader of men and a builder of teams. He will be able to demonstrate how he has down this previously and he will have to exude confidence that he can do so at Glory. Ideally he will have “turned around” a losing mentality and be able to point to examples of these and explain his role in that. The best man managers will have been leaders all of their lives. People build teams and command respect in different ways.”
Many will point to this requirement and look at the NTC performances over the past three or four years when Lowe was in charge. This was supposedly the best young talent in the state, yet they hardly ever won a game; the reason we were told was because it was not about results, but development. This team’s form never turned around. In seventeen games in charge of Perth Glory Lowe won four, drew four and lost nine. There was a spell where the team had failed to win in ten games, before victories over Newcastle Jets and the Central Coast ended the run. Maybe the panel saw this as the “turn around” they were looking for? Many fans did not.
Kenny Lowe is sadly on the back foot straight away. He will need to get results immediately. There will be no honeymoon period, as football and Perth Glory is a business. Through no fault of his own fans are already disenchanted by his appointment, which may result in lower membership numbers. Early defeats will result in crowds diminishing as was witnessed at the end of this season; Free tickets helping them look a little more respectable! If that happens Lowe will soon be shown the door, something he is well aware of having been around the game a long time. “It’s football. There’s only two things that will happen while I’m here at this club, that I’ll guarantee will happen, one I’ll get criticism. Two, I’ll get the sack. That’s guaranteed.” He said at the press conference.
Three things Lowe will need to do, are be strong when others at the club try to influence his squad and the other is win over the fans. Without them on his side, despite what he thinks, it will be a very bumpy ride. Finally his first signing will need to be one that excites and be a player who can deliver, this will have a big bearing on how people view him and next season, more so than the club may realise.