Edwards Faces First Real Test

December 14, 2013 at 3:17 pm 6 comments

Last night’s bust up in the Perth Glory dressing room does not come as a surprise as the atmosphere has been simmering for a number of weeks, and it was inevitable that it would come to a head at some point.

The tension had been mounting for a number of weeks. First there was a senior player feeling he was ‘at kindergarten’ rather than at a professional football club. It may have been a throw away line but the undercurrent was there.

Next was an error of judgement by one of the young players revealing what his contract was worth. Whether this was a young player showing off it was taken at face value and upset players of a similar age earning less, as well as senior players who had taken pay cuts to remain at the club this season.

Then came William Gallas, a big name signing, with a world class reputation. Many thought it was a good signing in football terms, but again when senior players had been advised that money was not available to meet their salary demands, the signing of an ageing star on a contract upwards of half a million dollars caused more angst.

Gallas started his first game in round 7 against the Central Coast Mariners, a game that saw the ever reliable Steve McGarry dropped in favour of one of the coach’s sons, Cameron Edwards. A move that apparently sparked a heated discussion behind closed doors.

Little things started to mount up such as the changing of training times from mornings to evenings with little or no discussion with the playing group. Then came Jacob Burns suspension via the ridiculous Match Review Panel.

The Perth Glory owner Tony Sage threatened legal action if the two game suspension wasn’t overturned. Yet two days later the club announced it was going to accept the ban. Leaving Burns no doubt even more frustrated and let down.

A defeat to Melbourne Victory and Jacob Burns left on the bench for the full 90 minutes and having to watch two inexperienced midfielders put on ahead of him while the Glory was trailing 1-0 was bound to leave many senior players baffled and frustrated.

When the arguments kicked off post match Alistair Edwards failed to attend the obligatory press conference, for which he or the club will be fined. This situation could have been controlled had the club had the media manager travelling with the team; as that is one of his roles. He drags the coach away to meet his media obligations on time. If the coach will not come he pulls rank and takes the assistant coach. An initial cost saving may well have ended up costing the club in the long term both financially and in adverse publicity.

Alistair Edwards will face the media when he lands at Perth Airport today and no doubt will have had plenty of time to prepare a defence for what has happened. If the club is smart he will read a prepared statement and then walk away without entertaining questions.

Edwards however will face his toughest time in the coaching hot seat as views have now been aired by the players. The same things happened in season one of the A- League and in December inaugural coach Steve McMahon resigned; coincidentally a coach who signed his son as a player.

Since coming back to Perth Glory as coach Edwards has made it quite clear that he is the man in control, his decisions are final. He made a brave move to sign both his sons, a move that put them both in a very difficult position should their form not meet expectations. Many within the squad obviously feel that this is currently the case, and that senior more experienced players are being sacrificed for them to receive game time. This situation will be a serious test of his mettle as a coach.

Can he regain the support of the dressing room? There is no doubt something has to give and the key will be how Edwards handles the situation. It could be vital to the rest of the Glory’s season. One thing is for sure the simmering tensions that came to the surface last night need to be quelled and quickly.


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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. All White  |  December 14, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Very balanced as always Ash.

    Did not know a lot of that, but it shows that things have been building up. Cameron is simply not good enough. You cannot even compare him to da Silva, Davies, Clisby and Woodcock.

    Ryan used to play wide in the youth team why is he now a midfielder? He does’t look like he can play this position despite some good moments.

    Other coaches would be sacked for this as he has obviously lost the players. Once again as you say not having the media manager there – cheap Tony Sage option – has cost them credibility.

    The way I see it Thwaite and Burns have to be suspended and go in the January transfer window or Edwards has to go now. Simple choice for the CEO and or Chairman. Guess we will find out who really is the boss! Have a feeling these two will try and smooth things over, which will cause more problems down the track.

  • 2. Super sub  |  December 15, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Great piece. Interesting reading and shows that tension has been building. Had heard Gallas signing was not a popular one when his salary became clear with Sage having pleaded poverty to senior players.

    I feel Sage is the problem and just wish he would leave the club to be run by a person who understands football, and who removes all the posers behind the scenes who are not there for the club but their CV or ego. The club is dying and Sage will never revive it.

  • 3. Nufty  |  December 15, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Sage signing Gallas was always going to have interesting repercussions for a club that pleaded poor. Typically, even though he’s fed the club money throughout his tenure (and boy does he let us know it) Sage has also been a complete liability.

    Edwards and Burns have both made rods for their own back as well though – the former by signing his sons, who aren’t out of place in the A-League but will always come in for more scrutiny – and the latter for exploding this in ‘public’ in the dressing room in front of the team which you can consider poor leadership by a club captain. Why didn’t he just had a quiet chat to Edwards about his concerns and not affect the squad with his dirty laundry?

    Now it’s all on the line – Burns’ career (at 36 he may not be a huge target for other clubs, not for more than a season anyway) or Edwards (not to mention Perth’s youth policy as a whole – wouldn’t it just be great if another coach came in and we started hoofing it to ageing defenders playing out of position on the wing again!)

    What a disaster.

  • 4. Not the Footy Show  |  December 15, 2013 at 10:06 am

    All White, I am not too sure why Ryan is being converted into a midfielder. Unless Reading the club he is on loan from requested such a move. Equally Jamie MacLaren is being reverted back to a striker, a position he played in his younger days but one Blackburn Rovers moved him from.

    You may be right in that Burns and Thwaite will be suspended and then moved on in the January transfer window; Of course Thwaite was supposed to go last year but Tony Sage stopped it at the last minute.

    Super sub as great a player Gallas was and the publicity garnered surrounding his signing it upset many. You cannot ask loyal players delivering week in week out to take a pay rise and then splash out on such a player. It sends the wrong message. Equally all the young players should be on the same salaries so there is no sniping, and so that they build a camaraderie of their own. These young players have the makings of a good side, as you say many have stepped up and do not look out of place. So to again create issues due to money is a great shame.

  • 5. Not the Footy Show  |  December 15, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Nufty, Agree 100% with Gallas. Tony Sage has sadly turned many off the club and it may upset many to say so, but there are many fans sick of hearing from the Chairman, they would rather hear from only the Coach, CEO and Captain as is traditionally the case in football clubs.

    I feel for Alistair Edward’s sons as even if they shine in the next few years they will sadly always be known by some as only getting the opportunity because it was their father who signed them. That is a big cross to bear and one that is not fair. Knowing both boys I doubt either begged their father to sign them, but like most sons welcomed the opportunity to work with their dad.

    As for the quiet chat, I believe there had already been a few and it reached breaking point. Whether it was the right thing to do, whether Jacob regrets the timing only he can say. Football is a passionate game and many a coach has had a dressing room blow up. I am actually pleased that the players are that passionate as sometimes I wonder, the smiles, the handshakes at the end of the game makes it appear losing doesn’t hurt, when it should.

    I have to also agree if Edwards is shown the door the new coach must continue the work that is being done with some talented young players to build the club back up. We cannot go through another “Transitional period.”

  • 6. Colin Sharland  |  December 15, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    I thought Gallas’s salary was paid for by the Company the CEO has connections with and not Tony Sage. Saying that though your right about players wages. Steve McGarry had to take another pay cut this season to get his contract extension so I could see how this would infuriate some players at the club. And what has happened to Brendan O’Neill he was getting game time last season yet this season he is not even on the bench. If we have to lose another Manager mid season lets use any money to secure the services of a successful overseas manager. BTW what Sir Alex up to bet he’d like the challenge.


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