The news that Perth Glory are in discussions with veteran French Defender William Gallas about signing for the club for season 2014/15 must surely be an ominous sign for fans. It would also not be good news for new coach Kenny Lowe.
Lowe’s first signing after being unveiled as full time coach was returning defender 31 year old Dino Djulbic. A player expected to partner 2014 Most Glorious Player award winner Michael Thwaite in the heart of the defense. So why would the club sign Djulbic if they were looking to sign Gallas, and how must he feel on hearing this news?
If there were concerns that the Djulbic and Thwaite partnership could be exposed by pace, re-signing Gallas is not going to allay those fears.
Kenny Lowe stated in a recent article that his defensive stocks are strong and most would agree. With Danny Vukovic in goal and an expected first choice back line of a returning from injury Josh Risdon and Scott Jameson on the flanks, with Djulbic and Thwaite in the middle it looks very solid. As back up you have more than adequate cover in the likes of Brandon O’Neill, Jack Clisby and Matt Davies who all did well when they played this year.
As Lowe stated he needs to strengthen the midfield. He also needs to find midfielders with discipline to link with the likes of Risdon and Jameson and who will drop in when these two push forward.
If Perth Glory is to play in a similar style to this season when Lowe took over as interim coach, he is going to have to instil discipline into the Brazilian Sidnei if the side is not to be exposed on the counterattack.
It was baffling to many fans that the inconsistent Brazilian was given a two-year deal by the club before a coach was appointed. Yes, he has flashes of brilliance and the ability to turn a game, but there is a reason he is playing in the A-League and not in a higher league. He lacks discipline, and based on his performances this season is a very selfish player. He spent far too much time on the ground and shamming for free kicks, this season rest assured referees will not be so lenient. When he lost the ball in the final third he rarely chased back or harried the opposition to win back possession; something every Brisbane Roar player does and why they often force opposition teams into mistakes. Perth Glory needs Sidnei and others to do the same.
If Glory is going to persist with using the flanks to unlock the opposition defence then as Lowe again stated he needs to strengthen his attacking stocks. At present none of the Glory strike force are what you call a “target man”; a player the wide players can pick out with their crosses, who can power a header on goal or set up fellow strikers with a knock down.
If Glory are to climb from the bottom half of the table into the top, Lowe needs to use all of his allocated squad places carefully by signing players he knows, not that he thinks might, will deliver what he is after. He needs to be sure to have that depth in midfield and upfront so if a player is struggling for form he has a player who can step in and do a job. Sadly this season he was hampered by the fact that his too many of his young charges were learning their roles; Jamie Maclaren returning from good performances in Blackburn Rovers Youth teams never looked a natural central striker despite Alistair Edwards being sure that was his best position. Had he been able to establish a partnership with a strike partner it may have been a very different season for the youngster, but sadly injuries prevented that happening.
Kenny Lowe deserves to be given the best chance to bring together a squad that he thinks can perform consistently. He should not have big name players thrust upon him. Club owner Tony Sage originally claimed former coach Alistair Edwards signed Gallas, then contradicted this statement by saying he only gets involved with Marquee signings. He came out before the end of the season saying that Gallas had not given a return on the pitch, which many would agree with; However its very hard as a defender in a struggling team. It therefore seems strange the club is keen to keep him.
From a team perspective if Lowe is to sacrifice one of his squad places to accommodate Gallas, it will be very unfair on the new coach. He does not need another defender. It is a totally unnecessary signing. This news coming the same day as the exciting and impressive-when-he-played Adrian Zahra was released has fans scratching their heads as to what direction the club is heading. Is it really pursuing a youth policy? One thing it does is put added pressure on the coach before a ball is kicked.
That is why the coach should fill every slot in his squad with players he wants. He should make the decisions and he alone. On that he can be judged.