They say a week is a long time in football, but a fortnight is even longer at Perth Glory!
The last fortnight has seen the club drop to an all time low losing six consecutive games, the coach move upstairs, one of the assistant coaches resign and leave immediately, the lowest crowd of the season and the most insipid performance of the season so far.
One of the players summed it talking after the game, ‘there are not enough winners in the squad, and too many players don’t hurt when we lose.’ That showed when some are smiling and laughing with the opposition at the final whistle.
There is no denying that the levelling of the playing field with the salary cap has hurt Perth Glory immensely, with players looking to only cross the Nullarbor if no one on the East coast wants them.
There was a good feeling when Dave Mitchell lured Jacob Burns, Mile Sterjovski and Chris Coyne to the club, there was a lot of hype surrounding the signing of Robbie Fowler, but questions have to be asked as to some of the decisions that have been made in the past year.
As raised on this site previously, how can you justify signing youth team players on two year deals when they have yet to prove themselves? Fondyke (1 appearance as a sub) Griffiths (zero appearances) Tommy Amphlett (1 appearance) Josh Risdon (zero appearances). If you are going to sign them on two year deals then you must show faith in them and play them. We are not saying that these players are not good enough, as for example Amphlett has been hampered by injury, but to give these guys two year deals seems crazy as it closes off places in the squad. They should be signed to one year deals with a carrot that says if you make the bench or the starting line up on ‘x’ number of occasions you will earn a second year.
That aside recent performances have shown that the squad lacks quality. The signings of Baird and Mitchell have proven to be poor. Baird never set the world alight at the Brisbane Roar, sure he has pace, but he does not score goals. Looking at his career, 467 games and he has scored 68 goals, an average of one every 6.8 games, which is not that impressive for a striker. This should be around four at this level. Josh Mitchell has struggled and one wonders if he will play again this season.
Victor Sikora has been missing all season and we are now in round 12 why was he not put on the long term injury list so that the club could bring in a replacement?
Chris Coyne was allowed to go to China to try and secure a place at the World Cup, but did the club have adequate cover knowing that they could not bring him back until the January transfer window?
One crucial issue that seems to be overlooked is the renewing of the coach’s contract on a year by year basis based on where the team finishes in the league. By putting in place such a clause you are always going to have a coach sign journeyman players whose experience he believes will see him achieve that goal and secure his position for another season. This has been evident at Perth Glory, and as a result has seen quality sacrificed amongst the second tier players. If Tony Sage bit the bullet and gave the coach time to build a side, – yes Mitchell has had three seasons, but always with a condition built in – as Ange Postecoglou was given at Brisbane Roar, the pressure is off the coach and he can afford to blood young talent a with a view to achieving the goals in a two year or three year period. The proof is in the pudding at Brisbane Roar.
As stated at the start of the season Robbie Fowler was a great signing from a marketing position, but was he from a footballing perspective? Looking at yesterday’s performance, following a two week break he was invisible, and his set pieces well below par. Pre-season the team looked sharp, and that was without the star signing. He was then brought into the side and they changed the style of play to accommodate him. Let’s face facts playing him in the hole has not worked. It puts added pressure on the midfield and effectively has the team playing with ten men. Gone are the overlapping runs down the flanks, and the attacking methods that had served the club so well. When was the last time a wide player from the Glory managed to get in behind the defence and whip in a good cross in recent weeks? Neville and Pearson the only two to have a go yesterday and they are relative novices.
Before the season started Mitchell said that Fowler would not play every game, he would use him carefully to maximise his effectiveness, yet he has played in ten of the eleven games so far this season. Which raises the question are the coaching staff being forced to play him? If so the club is doomed, as a coach should never be dictated to as to who he plays.
Surely he should be playing on the last man, and told to run for 40 minutes if that is all he has in the tank, and hopefully nick a goal for the side, rather than stroll around as a peripheral player for 90 minutes?
Ian Ferguson said that he needed to make more changes for the coming game against the Central Coast Mariners this Saturday, and that is abundantly clear. He needs to find the players who hurt as much as he does after a defeat, who take pride in being a professional player, and wearing the Perth Glory shirt. The question is, are there eleven such people in the squad?
This weekend will make or break this season, of that there is no doubt. It may also determine the future of Perth Glory as a club. Tony Sage has been very generous to plough millions into the club, but he wants success as success gives him credibility and profile. Defeats not only cost him financially, but in a far greater way, and he will not accept that position for very long.
Never has the Glory been in a worse situation, and therefore this weekend the players who take the park need to know they are playing for the club’s future survival as well as their own. Anything below 100% is unacceptable.