As the search for a new coach at Perth Glory narrows one has to feel that the club is on a hiding to nothing; that is unless they appoint Guus Hiddink.
The club will never be able to appease all of the fans no matter who they choose, unless the could lure Hiddink to NIB Stadium. If they select a foreign coach, unless it is a high profile one, who in turn will cost a great deal of money, there will be questions asked of his pedigree and how long will he take to adapt to the Hyundai A League. A league that is very different in terms of challenges from many around the world, with a salary cap, no transfers, and no youth academies to bring through the next generation of players.
If the club goes with a coach who has already had A-League experience and who is obviously out of the League at the present time, questions will be asked as to why he lost his job at his previous club and his results at that club will be analysed. No doubt disgruntled former players will air their views on his ability and immediately the new coach will have to prove himself; unless he has a strong enough character to rise above such pressures.
The truth is football fans are rarely happy with the decisions made by their clubs. Some fans will want a foreign coach, some will want a local coach, while others will want an established proven coach from the A-League or NSL. The club can never win, unless the coach proves to be successful, and then everyone forgets.
There was a time when Manchester United fans were calling for Sir Alex Ferguson’s head, a fact that is conveniently forgotten after so many years of success.
Therein lies another issue, sticking with a coach. If, as Perth Glory have indicated they have gone through a thorough and intensive process to ensure that they have the best man for the job, then give that person time. Not 18 months and stipulations on where the team must finish in the league. Ian Ferguson and Ron Smith both lost close to ten games by a one goal margin, both were good coaches who lost some of those games due to poor refereeing or bad luck. The truth is the team was never that far away from being successful. The margin between success and failure is so finite in football. Sometimes you have to look beyond results, even though it is a results driven business.
Outside of the Glory’s recruitment drive one has to look at the overall scheme of things in this country when it comes to coaches and ask why would anyone follow that career path? The FFA and state bodies are pushing people to climb the coaching ladder, demanding that coaches cannot coach at certain levels unless they have set qualifications. However With those qualifications comes the expectation of work.
Yet the opportunities are few and far between. The top of the coaching ladder is the Pro Licence, and the FFA has told those who have achieved that level of qualification they want them in the system. Yet rejected some of those very same people for a key position in Australian development, and gave the role to someone who did not have a Pro Licence at the time, and who it is believed did not apply for the role when it was advertised.
There are now many around Australia with A-Licences – the next one down from a Pro-licence – many with aspirations to coach in the A-League or overseas, yet when clubs in the A-league look overseas rather than within Australia their opportunities diminish. Their credibility is also indirectly harmed.
The reason that they have been overlooked will invariably come down to experience. “The NPL/State League is very different from the A-League,” will be the reason given, and that is a fair comment, yet how will they gain the experience necessary to make that step up?
The FFA is supposed to have strong ties with the Netherlands and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the German FA (DFB) which the FFA stated “incorporates the sharing of technical information and coach development, the exchange of information and best practices in football management.” Why are we not seeing the cream of each NPL/State league’s coaches being given the opportunity to go to either of these countries and gain more experience? IN fact why are we not seeing A-League administrators not going and gaining experience in best practices in football management? That may prevent them all recording losses each year.
The other question has to be why are A-League clubs not assisting and working with these coaches to improve their knowledge and expertise? After all they will benefit at the end of the day, as the State Leagues/NPL is where they recruit from and if the coaching is better the players will be better when they eventually come to the A-League clubs.
There may be many an outstanding coach in the State/NPL competitions, yet they will never be given a chance purely because no one at the top of the game is prepared to explore the possibility, or even work with them initially to polish that possible rough diamond. Instead clubs at the highest level will recycle coaches with A-League experience or alternatively look overseas.
This cycle has to be broken and a new approach taken, especially if we want more Australian coaches to follow Ange Postecoglou into the national team role.
It is not one club’s fault that the game finds itself in this situation, but there has to be a change of attitude soon. Just as clubs look to find the best young players so too should the FFA and clubs be identifying the best up and coming coaches and nurturing them.