Last week the World Game website carried a story titled “Boys Behind Fergie” where the Perth Glory owner parried accusations that he had made a mistake in appointing Ian Ferguson as first team coach when Dave Mitchell asked to move upstairs. This was pleasing to see.
Yet he went on to state about Ian Ferguson that, “He knows he has to make the finals and his contract is not automatic beyond this year if that doesn’t happen. We have a handshake agreement at this stage.”
“Also Fergie does not have his A-League coaching licence as yet and if he doesn’t get that then it becomes academic anyway. He has been given special dispensation by the FFA and he knows that it’s something he must address in time.”
This flies in the face of the announcement made by the Club Chairman on Tuesday 12 October when Ferguson was appointed, where it was announced and confirmed on the clubs website in relation to Ian Ferguson as senior coach and Dave Mitchell as the club’s new Football Director, that “Both appointments are until the end of the 2011/12 Hyundai A-League season.”
So what are we to believe? Once again the coach is given a short term deal. Ferguson supposedly already had a two year deal so why would he accept the senior post on a mere handshake? If you appoint a coach give him your backing. The new owners of Newcastle Jets are to be applauded for showing faith in Branko Culina giving him a long term contract, when their team was one place off bottom of the league. With that security he can focus on the job at hand rather than worry each week if he will be axed as the payout will be minimal. As stated previously which coach would take a job at Perth Glory if only offered one year? An international coach would not. Only an ambitious young man with some financial security could afford to. Such short term planning is always going to destabilize the club.
Mr. Sage has said that a foreign coach is not an option anyway claiming in the same article “I don’t want to take a risk on an Italian or German coach who doesn’t know our players and who wants big money.” The money is a key issue; a foreign coach is likely to cost at least double if not three times what his current coach is receiving.
Why in the old NSL were there so many ex British players in the coaching positions? Simply because they were the only ones prepared to work for the money on offer. Now in the A league we are seeing a similar situation, where the Australian coaches are now the ones being underpaid in comparison to the foreign coaches.
There is no doubt that the Perth Glory players have under achieved this season, and the club is carrying a few players who simply are not up the task or are past their use by date. But the mixed messages that continue to come out of the club are confusing and damaging.
If the fans don’t know what is going on. One week they are told one thing, and then a week later they read the opposite, if that is the public view of the club what chance do the players and the staff at the club have?
It has been great to see Tony Sage plough his millions into the club and for that football fans in Perth should be eternally grateful, however the club still lacks leadership.
To have been successful in his mining enterprises, Mr. Sage undoubtedly employs people who are good at their jobs, people who know about setting up mine sites, and drilling holes in the ground. He takes advice from financial advisors before buying into certain projects to make sure that they are indeed a viable investment. Then why has he not done this with Perth Glory?
This weekend covering the Youth League it was interesting to talk to Sydney FC staff who said despite the poor run of results, Viteslav Lavicka was under pressure but there was never any question of him being sacked as the club believed they had the right man in charge and were confident that he could sort out the problems.
Since entering the A league Perth Glory have had five coaches in five years, yet from 1996 – 2004 in the NSL Perth Glory had just 3 coaches. That consistency was the foundation for the success the club enjoyed. If Ian Ferguson is shown the door at the end of the season, the club will be once again be back where it was at the start of the A League, and it will take at least two seasons to rebuild.
There is no doubt that winning gives a club stability, and that was a key factor in the NSL, but keep re-arranging the deck chairs as has been the case in the A league is totally destabilizing. It also puts all of the staff and players on edge as to whether they will continue to have a job. They then start focusing on survival rather than concentrating on what their role is.
Players are now playing for contracts, although in recent weeks a few will have done those prospects no good whatsoever. When playing for your career’s survival, do you play as well for the team or focus on simply doing what is required to ensure another year with Perth Glory or at another club?
When you change a coach it changes the dynamic, as players who were favoured by the previous coach suddenly find themselves on the outer, while others tend to step up and claim the chance given to them. Sadly, based on results few have grasped the opportunities presented to them by the new coach.
The fans are slowly drifting away as they are not fools, they see a club lacking in leadership and direction. If Perth Glory wants to get back, or even close to back to where it belongs it needs to lay some strong foundations, and be more honest and open with the fans and the Perth public. It needs to be a club with a goal and a realistic one, and one that the fans can see unfolding; for a while they saw that with Dave Mitchell. It needs to have a presence in the community again, and be marketed properly, not as we have witnessed this season where the whole marketing drive was based around one player, and which football fans have seen through very quickly.
The messages coming out of the club need to be strong and honest, not ego driven or contradictory. We saw this when we had three owners, yet it is still as divisive with only one. It is time that the owner stepped into the background and trusted the staff he has appointed to do the job that he has employed them to do. Every time that he fronts the media and talks to them it undermines them and invariably contradicts what the club has already said. If you don’t have faith in them to do the job, then why did you employ them?
The sad hard truth is that without strong leadership on and off the park, a proper structure and the coach being given some job security this club will continue to struggle. A development program to bring through local talent, or make players who missed out initially better players who can step up is essential. This is the future so spend the money here rather than on marquee players, as none have given a return on investment so far.