Alistair Edwards has just made the boldest move in his A League coaching career, by signing his twenty-one year old son Cameron. It is a bold move because unfortunately it will see him accused of favouring his family, and will also see Cameron come under closer scrutiny than many of the other members of the Glory squad. Cameron is going to have to prove to many doubters that he is there on merit, and not just because his dad is the coach.
The last Glory coach to sign his son was Steve McMahon, who swore blindly that his son was good enough to play in the Hyundai A-League. Many begged to differ. He came to Perth from Blackpool, where again he signed for his father, and was voted by Tangerines fans as the worst Blackpool player in FourFourTwo magazine. Tough criticism to have to take.
Other players to have played for their father when he was coach are notably Darren Ferguson who played 27 times for father Alex at Manchester United, and Nigel Clough who played 403 times for father Brian at Nottingham Forest. His father always referring to him as ‘the Number 9’ to the press and never by his name. Kenny Dalglish had his son on the books of Liverpool when he was the Manager but never gave him a game. He did however sign him for Newcastle when he took over as Manager there and Paul made 14 appearances.
It is a tough gig playing for your father. If you struggle with form the accusations of nepotism soon surface. It can also make it awkward in the team dressing room, where the coach is not always popular. Other players loathe to speak up when the coach departs for fear of the son telling his father what was said. Having your son in your team and in your squad, puts him under a different kind of pressure, some cope some don’t.
Cameron Edwards has talent of that there can be no doubt. Technically he is very good on the ball, has great vision and a cultured left foot. He is able to pass with both feet and frequently makes himself available for the ball. There are two areas that he will need to improve on to establish himself in the A-League, and hopefully playing for his father he will be able to find these attributes. The first is physicality, Cameron is not a player who appears to enjoy a physical tussle and if an opponent closes down his space and dominates him physically he has been known to lose the individual battle. The other area is influencing the game when his team needs inspiration. He has the talent to turn a game with one pass, to carve an opening out of nothing, but several times when playing for the Glory Youth, when the team needed that moment of brilliance that he had the skills to deliver, it didn’t happen. Playing for his father he may be more confident to back himself and his ability, and we may yet see him influence the outcome of games by using that superb passing skill and vision.
Alistair and Cameron will both cop stick of that there can be no doubt, but hopefully both have the strength of character to pull through it. Hopefully both have discussed this issue before the contract was signed. Cameron has the tools to be a good player, he would not have been signed by Reading, or Melbourne Heart if he didn’t. Let us hope the fans give him the chance to express that talent, and justify his father’s faith before anyone makes any judgement on the two linking up.