Posts tagged ‘China’

The Blame Game

Perth Glory find themselves once more in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The club having received its second show cause notice from the Football Federation of Australia.

This is no surprise to many. The first show cause notice being issued in December and we covered this in our piece FFA Backed Into A Corner. 

At that time Perth Glory CEO Jason Brewer and coach Kenny Lowe were locked in a room working out the best way to respond, a move that implied the coach was aware that the club’s administration had breached the $2.55million salary cap. At the time he managed to stay focussed on the job and results continued to go the club’s way. A dip in form until Josh Risdon’s winner against Western Sydney Wanderers maybe showed that the off field issues were beginning to take their toll.

Maybe the realisation has dawned on some of the players that if they have indeed been receiving money “under the table” has huge tax implications. Implications that could lead to a spell in prison if the Australian Tax Office feel that they have been deliberately defrauded.

Perth Glory have been asked to respond to allegations on the following issues: Payments outside of the Standard Player Contract, Payments to a player’s family member, Payments of player agents’ fees, Payment of a third party sponsorship, Pre-payment to a player, Payment of travel costs, Accommodation allowances, and Provision of motor vehicles.

Interesting there are at present no mentions of players being paid into overseas bank accounts, which a club insider has alleged has happened. With the Australian Tax Office giving people a moratorium recently to declare earnings overseas that are paid into a foreign bank account one would hope that the players made the relevant declarations. With new communication between a number of countries if this has indeed happened, then these earnings will soon be found.

Looking at the FFA’s questions who is to blame? The players for accepting the payments? The player agents for encouraging the club to make such payments? The CEO? The Owner of the club? Or maybe the FFA for continuing with the salary Cap?

Word is that the CEO Jason Brewer will be the man to fall on his sword and that is to be expected if the club is found guilty of the breaches. It has been reported that owner Tony Sage has distanced himself from this latest scandal. Yet his CEO Jason Brewer said on Not The Footy Show, when we were on air, that he had daily conversations with Tony Sage. That being the case surely he would have advised the owner as to the arrangements that had been negotiated between players and the club?

Of course the FFA’s investigations are not purely into this season. Which brings into question Mr Sage’s choice of CEO’s and the fact that when the club had a purge on staff following the infamous Hatt Report they removed the one man who understood the FFA salary Cap rules. Maybe that was where everything went wrong?

There are many who believe that the Salary Cap is in fact to blame. The reasons for its implementation made perfect sense. The idea being to have all clubs operating on the same level and not extending themselves beyond their means. The trouble is the club have to spend the money. The end result is very average players are being paid more money than their talent warrants. The knock-on affect of that is it pushes up the expectations of other less talented players.

Another example and in Perth Glory’s case advocated by the FFA is that of the Marquee player. The FFA broke its own competition rules to allow the Perth Glory to upgrade captain Michael Thwaite to a Marquee player status; section 7.23 “A Club cannot 1. (a) change the status of a Player on the Player Roster;”  Section 7.18 reads “A Club must apply to FFA for approval of a prospective Marquee Player, Homegrown Player, Guest Player, Replacement Player or Contracted NYL Player using the relevant Prescribed Form before it concludes any contractual negotiations with such prospective Marquee Player,”

Nothing against Michael Thwaite personally but a Marquee player is meant to be a player that helps bring in extra fans through the gate, or is a stand out player clearly a cut above the rest on the park. Very few defenders will pull in extra punters, a few would but the are few and far between, Paolo Maldini is one that immediately comes to mind who would have, John Terry and Gerard Pique are two more. The question is should Michael Thwaite have been approved as a Marquee player? Is he a big enough player even in Australia? He is undoubtedly consistent at this level, but he is not one of the first defenders on the team sheet when Ange Postecoglou is making out his team list for the Socceroos. By allowing Perth Glory to make him a Marquee player have the FFA not exacerbated the situation and pushed up expectations of players and agents and forced clubs to pay more to secure a player?

It may seem unfair to single out Michael Thwaite who has served the club well this season and been consistent week in week out. Another example would be Matt McKay at Brisbane Roar. McKay burst onto the scene with Brisbane Strikers in the NSl and was a key component with the Brisbane Roar when they won back-to-back titles. He then left for Glasgow Rangers at the worst time possible as the Scottish giant was going through its financial troubles and was relegated from the Scottish Premier League. He moved to South Korea and then to China where he struggled for form. His two year contract was terminated after six months by mutual consent. He then came back to Brisbane as a Marquee signing aged 30. Did his career warrant him being a Marquee signing? Does Matt Mckay bring extra fans through the turnstiles? Or was this just reward for a local boy who had served the city so well? There are more players who fall into this category.

So are the FFA partly to blame for approving these Marquee status players, for forcing clubs to use the majority of the salary Cap and pay players more than their career experience and performances may warrant?

Whatever the answer, if Perth Glory are found guilty and indications are that they will be, a new debate will unfold once the punishment is handed down as to who will take the blame on their shoulders. As the supporter of a club who broke the rules in the UK and were punished severely, players will leave, as will administrators, but as is always the case, the fans will remain. They will pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start supporting again, believing quite rightly that they deserve better.

 

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April 2, 2015 at 10:14 am 7 comments

Asia Becoming The End of The Line

Without taking anything away from the Asian Cup, it has yet to resonate with many football fans around the globe the way that the Copa America or even the African Cup of Nations does.

Currently in India for the Hockey India League, there was hardly any coverage of the Asian Cup, only the final was televised. In the newspapers the tournament was lucky to garner a paragraph. Whereas the African Cup of Nations has demanded a third to a quarter page. The English Premier League still dominates the papers while these tournaments are taking place along with La Liga.

One area Asia needs to be very careful is that it does not become the graveyard of footballers past; something it is heading down the path to become.

Many countries in Asia are now going to become trivia questions as to where superstars of the game played their last professional games. William Gallas, Robbie Fowler, Mario Jardel in the A-League and more recently the likes of Robert Pires, David James, David Treziguet and Alessandro del Piero in the Indian Super League. What is interesting is that in India they realised that del Piero was finished after four games, and he played no further part in the tournament, this was coming off a season in Australia with Sydney FC where he was still being lauded as great. Mind you he did pocket another million dollars!

China too is not helping. With lots of money they too are bringing in players who are quite simply past their best. Is it helping the profile of the League? Not really. Is it helping development of the game? Possibly, but it depends how involved these players are with helping develop the youth.

Nicolas Anelka at Shanghai Shenhua was a disaster, even though he did not end his career there. Although interestingly players of his ilk tend not to end up in China, it is the second string internationals rather than the top names. In fact if you look at the Chinese Super League in the main only Guangzhou Evergrande bring in players on the rise and sell them on for a profit. The rest bring in everyday reliable workmanlike footballers, as is evidenced by the Australian players who have gone to play in China; although the clubs in Australia need the money being offered in transfer fees.  The fact that very few of the top South Korean or Japanese players head to China confirms that their leagues are stronger and technically better. Maybe that is why their remain at the top of Asian football.

Will the big name players heading to Qatar and the other West Asian nations help raise the standard of their leagues or their national teams? History would say that is unlikely to be the case. It may help the profile of the league in the short term but not the standard of football.

Asia may be upset that Australia won the Asian Cup, as well as the Asian Champions League, and thus deprived one of their own a place at the Confederations Cup and the World Club Championship, but rather than sniping at Australia, the powers that be should be looking at what is the best way to raise the standard of football in the region, so that there are more teams vying for World Cup berths. More important is that the Asian Cup becomes a genuinely respected international tournament where more than four of five teams are expected to win the title, so that it does generate more international interest and respect.

The start of this may well be to cut back on allowing big name players to come and graze on their fields.

February 7, 2015 at 4:34 pm Leave a comment

McKinna – A True Leader

We hear in sport, although rarely these days, of players being a one-club man. Where their loyalty is rooted in one club that they played for. Some may move on but their heart remains with that one club.

It is not that often you can say the same about a coach. It is therefore great to see that former Central Coast Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna is one such man.

Sure after leaving the club and becoming the mayor of Gosford, where the club is based he was always going to still have dealings for the club, but his drive and effort behind the “Stand Up for the Mariners” is to be applauded.

Sadly many fans will forget McKinna’s achievements as a coach at the Central Coast Mariners. In the inaugural season of the A-League McKinna steered the Mariners to third on the table and into the Grand Final, which they lost to Sydney FC. They also won the pre-season cup beating Perth Glory the first year and losing to Adelaide United on penalties the second year. After a disappointing second season McKinna steered the club to their first Premiership, they once again lost the Grand Final this time to Newcastle Jets. In 2008-09 season three defeats in the last three rounds saw the team finish fourth, but they were eliminated in the finals by Brisbane Roar. McKinna had laid some solid foundations for his successor Graham Arnold to build on and after a second premiership they finally won a Championship.

Despite spells in China coaching McKinna’s heart is still very much with the Mariners and he is fighting for the fans for the club to stay in the area. Owner Mike Charlesworth has angered fans by saying he plans to take four games away from the seaside town and play them in Sydney to as he says “broaden his fan base.”

There is no doubt the Mariners are struggling this season and as a result crowds are bound to be affected, but as we have seen with other clubs around the country attention should turn to the administration and a question should be asked are the off field management truly up to the task? This may sound a harsh criticism but once again we are seeing a club’s owner state that he needs crowds of 11,000 – 12,000 to make it worthwhile to stay at Gosford.

No doubt this figure is based on a season in which the side is doing well, as in previous years, and finals are almost assured, but surely you have to also plan for a worst case scenario where you may get a string of players injured and results go against you and crowds drop?

Sometimes football clubs forget that they are in the entertainment business today. Sure there will be loyal fans who will pay their money every week to come and watch win, lose, or draw, and no matter the style of football on offer, but there will not be 11,000 of them. When things are not going well you have to work harder at bringing fans through the turnstiles.

Incredibly top of the table Perth Glory, who one would expect would be packing them in with the style of football they are playing and the results that they have achieved, had to resort to a ‘special’ via social media site Groupon. For $20 you could buy a match ticket and would also be given a club T-shirt.

Perth Glory has been criticised in the past for not being pro-active in trying to pull supporters into the stadium, and as sad as it is that the club on top of the league table has to do this, at least they are trying to swell the gate.

In an article in the Australian newspaper earlier this week McKinna hit on one of the key problems facing A-League clubs when it comes to filling stadia. McKinna said the attendance increase of 55% as a result of the “Stand up for the Mariners” campaign was a “clear message’’ the fans were prepared to support the club in good numbers, and then came the key phrase, ‘but that they needed to be engaged properly.’

McKinna has been a fan, he has been a professional player, he has played at semi-pro level, been an assistant coach, as well as a head coach, so he knows the game. One of the problems around the country is not enough of the administrators ‘know the game’ and understand how fans feel. Or even how clubs and local players feel when it comes to being engaged and feeling a part of the one major club in their city.

Football in Australia needs more Lawrie McKinnas. Sadly they are few and far between. Many ex players are looking simply for the next pay day or to prolong a privileged life in football. This is where the administrators earn their money finding out who is passionate about the game to go those extra yards for the game and the club. It was the first thing that the great Bill Shankly did when he took over at Liverpool did. He interviewed every single employee to find out how passionate they were about the club, and what it meant to them. Those who had that passion to do whatever it took to get Liverpool to the top stayed, those to whom it was a job left.

Lawrie McKinna is a shining light and let us hope for the Mariners his campaign pays dividends not just for the people of Gosford but for the A-League and football in general. Moving the team will not solve any problems, look at Wimbledon in England, and the Oakland Raiders in the NFL who finally returned home after a 12 year stint in Los Angeles in 1995. The Mariners are a Central Coast team and on the Central Coast they must stay.

December 31, 2014 at 11:17 am 3 comments

Bid Failure May Be Costlier than at First Thought

England losing its bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup was bad enough for the country dubbed “The Home of Football” but its impact may in fact be more far reaching than many realised. That is if the recent results being recorded by the British Olympic and Paralympic sports are anything to go by.

At the recent Invictus Games which saw 400 competitors from 14 nations compete in 8 sports, and event that featured athletes injured, sick or disabled as a result of their serving their country, Britain’s Paralympic stocks looked to be extremely healthy heading towards Rio in 2016.

In fact there has hardly been one sport from the London Olympic Games that has not lifted its game since the hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games. The results proving a real legacy, with stand out performances in triathlon, athletics and gymnastics, where Claudia Fragapane emerged with four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games. Meanwhile at the recent Youth Olympics in China 16 year old Gianni Regini-Moran scooped five gold medals.

In fact at the Youth Olympics Britain’s 32 athletes won a record 24 medals. (7 Gold, 6 silver and 11 bronze).

Lord Coe who when bidding for London to host the 2012 Olympic Games promised a legacy, has been quoted as saying “There is no reason why some should not be there or thereabouts in Rio.”

With success coming so hot on hosting the Olympic Games there are many in English football looking on and wondering if hosting the World Cup would have also seen a surge in English born talent coming to the surface, and players emerging who may actually steer the national team to at least the semi finals of a major tournament.

The truth is we will never know…

September 16, 2014 at 5:25 pm Leave a comment

Asia Falls Behind

The Football World Cup in Brazil was not a good tournament for Asian teams, with all four qualifiers heading home after the group stages.

None of the Asian representatives won a single game at the World Cup, Japan the Korea Republic and Iran all managed one draw and two losses while Australia lost all three of its group games.

Of the four teams Iran only managed one goal in its three games, Japan two, while Australia and the Korea Republic managed three a piece in their three games. Australia matched Cameroon with the worst defensive record in the tournament conceding nine goals in just three games, Iran conceded eight and Korea Republic and Japan, two of the strongest teams from Asia conceded six each in their three group matches.

The tournament has surpassed the goals scored in the whole of the 2010 tournament with eleven matches still to be played and the all time highest scoring tournament France ’98’s record looks in doubt. A tournament where 171 goals were scored. In 2006 in Germany there were 147 and in South Africa 145 goals scored. This will be little comfort to the Asian representatives who found it hard to score and were too easily scored against. They collectively conceded 29 goals in 12 games, and notched only nine.

With Africa having two teams progress to the last sixteen Asia could find one of their qualification spots under pressure, or at least their play off spot. There are also already rumblings that FIFA needs to revisit the qualification process to ensure that the best 32 teams in the World compete at the finals and not just the best representatives from all of the FIFA regions. The AFC executive are going to have to be ready for this as Asia looks to be the region to miss out down the track.

Sadly it is not just in football that Asia is falling behind the rest of the world. If we take a look at the recently completed Hockey World Cup in the Netherlands, Australia were victorious in the Men’s competition, but Australia were there representing Oceania, the body their football team left to join Asia.

In this twelve team tournament Asian teams occupied three of the bottom four places; Malaysia were twelfth, India ninth and South Korea tenth. Hockey powerhouse Pakistan did not even make the finals for the first time in the nation’s history.

Many in Asia were bemoaning the shift in power and putting it down to the fact that the sport is now played on artificial pitches for the regions demise, but it has to be more than that.

India won six consecutive Olympic gold medals up until 1960, when it lost to Pakistan in the Gold medal match. It has won only two Gold medals since. Pakistan has won three Olympic golds, so between them they have won 11 of the 22 Gold medals contested for Hockey. The last was in 1984 when Pakistan won in Los Angeles.

When it comes to the World Cup which started in 1971 Pakistan have won four titles and India just one. The last coming in 1994 when Pakistan won in Sydney. South Korea who always punch above their weight when one looks at how few people play the sport, have only managed a silver in the Sydney Olympics and two fourth place finishes at the World Cup in 2002 and 2006.

Asia can take solace in the fact that Japan’s women are the World Champions and Olympic Silver medallists. They are ranked fourth in the World with Australia ninth and DPR Korea and China also in the top 15. In Hockey they have three teams in the top ten, China at fifth, Korea Republic at nine and Japan at tenth. India is the only other Asian nation in the top 15.

So why is Asia struggling to keep pace with Europe? These are certainly worrying times for the region and hopefully a solution can be found soon as sport needs Asian teams to perform as currently that is where the money is. Will that consumer support wane, or will they simply switch their allegiance. It will be interesting to see what the next four years holds for Asia in the world of sport.

July 2, 2014 at 9:12 am Leave a comment

Talent and Time, the Key to Success

They say that life is about learning from your mistakes and one looks at Perth Glory and hopes that this will be the case. Some cynics will no doubt ask which mistake?

The mistake in question is that of the senior coach. Let us go back to the A-League season of 2007-08. The previous season, the second of the A-League has seen the club finish as the last Australian team 7th in the 8 team competition, with only the Wellington Phoenix below them. Ron Smith was the coach, a man regarded by most in Australia as the best development coach in the country, having brought through many of the players dubbed ‘the golden generation.’ His task was to rebuild Perth Glory and bring through players who would be the foundation of the club in future years.

Players left over from the previous season included: Leo Bertos, Simon Colosimo, Jamie Coyne, Jamie Harnwell, Jason Petkovic, Naum Sekulovski, David Tarka, David Micevski, Alex Vrteski, Billy Celeski and marquee signing Stan Lazaridis. The last three players had all been signed the season before by Smith, although Lazaridis’s signature had been secured prior to his appointment.

The club had new owners who had bought the licence off of the Football Federation of Australia. Three men were to run the club, something that raised a few eyebrows as it appeared no one man was in charge, John Spence, Brett McKeon and Tony Sage.

New signings brought in were: Anthony Danze who was coaxed back to top flight football having been signed previously by Crystal Palace and who had shone in Australian youth teams. Dino Djulbic a virtual unknown from South Melbourne who had starred at Perth SC. Another unknown talent, Jimmy Downey from the AIS. The experienced Hayden Foxe returning from ten years overseas with clubs such as Ajax, West Ham United, Porstmouth and Leeds United, Nick Rizzo who also had spent time playing in Italy and England. James Robinson who had just won the A-League with Melbourne Victory. The young and raw Nikita Rukyavstya from the AIS and Perth SC. Defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley, an ex AIS player who had been signed by Sydney FC. Mitchell Prentice who was also ex AIS and had played in Scotland and Malaysia. Mate Dragicevic from Croatia, and goalkeeper Tando Velaphi from the AIS, and who had made one appearance for Queensland Roar.

Unfortunately for the club, its fans and coach, Stan Lazaridis was serving a 12 month suspension after testing positive to a drug test for anti-androgen Finasteride, a prescription alopecia medication, which was banned at the time. The marquee player was not allowed to train with the squad until the ban had been served, and ended up only playing two games at the end of the campaign.

Long standing number one goalkeeper Jason Petkovic was recovering from a broken leg that threatened to end his career and in fact would make only three appearances late in the season; which was a credit to him after such an horrific injury.

David Tarka who looked to be back to the form that saw him head overseas to Nottingham Forest looked to have put his injury woes behind him when in the opening game he tore his hamstring off the bone and took no further part in the season.

Hayden Foxe picked up a knee injury at the start of the season and was ruled out for several months. He too only played the last six games of the season.

So the coach had plenty of absentees amongst his senior players. Things however looked very positive for the club when in the pre-season tournament, despite playing only one game at home they progressed to the final beating, Newcastle Jets, Adelaide United, Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory. They led at half time in the final thanks to a rare Leo Bertos goal, but ended up losing 2-1 to Adelaide United at Hindmarsh stadium. The signs were positive.

Mate Dragicevic, started the season up front but struggled and was soon released. Goal scoring was an issue. Yet defensively the team looked solid. The first three games ended in 0-0 draws.

The next two games were lost 2-1 and 1-0 before a 4-1 thumping in Wellington. Two more draws followed against Adelaide United and Sydney before a 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory and another 3-3 draw this time with Queensland Roar. When the team lost 1-0 to Wellington Phoenix, Ron Smith and the club parted ways.

Smith had not won a game in the opening 11 games, yet he had not lost six of those games. Four of the five that he had lost were by a solitary goal. In the remaining games the club managed to win 4, lose 4 and draw 2.

There is no doubt that Football is a results based game, and if teams are not winning some fans opt to stay at home, but this was supposed to be a work in progress. Sure Smith signed a few players who did not perform as expected, sure he suffered with injuries, but if he was to lay the foundations of the club for the future surely he deserved more time? These were games being lost by just the odd goal. Arsenal fans will remember how under George Graham how they won the Championship on the back of many a 1-0 win. That is how finite the margins can be.

The question is were the players good enough?

Of the young players that Ron Smith signed Billy Celski went on to play for Australia and win the A-League Premiership and Championship. Danze retired a month after Smith left. The unknown-when-he-was-signed Dino Djulbic, also went on to represent Australia, as well as play in Germany, China and the UAE. Jimmy Downey was hampered by injuries, but moved on to play for two further A-League clubs as well as play in the Dutch Eerste Divisie with Sparta Rotterdam. Nikita Rukyavstya has also made the national team, and is one of the few AIS graduates to make it overseas, playing in the Netherlands and Germany. He is currently signed with Mainz, but on loan to FSV Frankfurt. Nikolai Topor-Stanley is on his fourth A-League club, Western Sydney Wanderers and will play in his second Grand Final this weekend, he too went on to represent Australia after leaving Perth Glory. Sadly for Tando Velaphi despite staying in the A-League his appearances have been limited at both Melbourne clubs since leaving Perth.

This shows that Smith knew how to spot talent. That talent may not have shone at Perth Glory, but it blossomed when it left. Who knows what could have happened had that talent been kept in Perth.

When Kenny Lowe was unveiled as the Perth Glory’s new coach club CEO Jason Brewer stated that “he is by far the best youth development coach in Australia, nobody knows the talent that we have in this state better than Kenny Lowe.” Hopefully if the club realises this, and it is not just rhetoric, he will be given adequate time to develop that talent. It is also hoped that the way games are lost will be looked at rather than simply the scoreline. Development takes time and as history has shown, Glory’s impatience, and the owners desire for instant success has cost them in the past. Hopefully the same mistake will not be made again.  Certainly the talent the club spotted by Smith, and which the club then let slip through its fingers would show that patience may well be the key.

 

 

 

 

April 28, 2014 at 10:05 am 3 comments

Decision Time

This week Perth Glory are expected to announce their new coach. As usual with the Western Australian club there have been mixed messages coming from the club as to how the process has been conducted, and where it is at. The most embarrassing being when owner and Chairman Tony Sage stated that ex Socceroo Mark Bosnich was chairing a selection panel, something the CEO, Jason Brewer, had denied on Not the Footy Show three days earlier, and Bosnich himself denied within 24 hours of the owner’s statement. This once again raises the issue of how close an interest Mr Sage takes to the running of his club and whether he in fact listens to information given by his CEO.

It is hard to know what to believe, the public and fans have been told that a short list was drawn up of six candidates, four of which were foreigners and two were local Australian coaches.

Some facts are that former Sydney Olympic NSL winning coach Gary Phillips withdrew from the race. On Monday last week just prior to his sacking in Japan, Central Coast Mariners A-League winning coach Graham Arnold threw his hat in the ring. Obviously desperate to stay involved in football and gain another position in the A-League. It is understood though that his wage demands far exceeded the Glory’s budgeted remuneration. Whether that can be overcome time will tell.

Other local names in the mix, are rumoured to include Fox Sports analyst Mark Rudan, current caretaker coach Kenny Lowe and ex Gold Coast United and Queensland Roar coach Miron Bleiberg.

First of all let us look at the foreign coach situation, in which the most high profile name to be bouncing around is that of Gianfranco Zola. He too may well have priced himself out of the job, especially when he requested AUD$40k to play one game in Perth several years ago.

The two foreign coaches to win the A-League have not stayed very long in Australia, Pierre Littbarski and Viteslav Lavicka at Sydney FC. Josep Gombau at Adelaide United is now the flavour of the month as Adelaide scraped into the finals – they claimed sixth spot – this season, but is he the success everyone is hailing him to be? Has he really stuck with the style of football that he was trying to impose? Did he maybe find out that the players at his disposal were not of the calibre he was used to working with at Barcelona’s youth team? One would have thought that his time in Hong Kong with Kitchee may have prepared him for that. The truth is Adelaide’s style has changed dramatically since they lost to ten man Melbourne Victory. Gone is the high defensive line that Gombau was trying to play, and it would appear that a meeting of minds has taken place where the coach has compromised his ideals to keep the players happy and the style is more in line with what the players are used to. Interestingly in the last 24 hours Gombau has stated that it will take him until 2017 to complete the possession-based, cultural revolution he started and put on hold at Adelaide United.

“I think the minimum is two seasons for a coach but with this project it should be four years. We will see where we are after that,” Gombau is quoted as saying. This is a key factor when it comes to Perth Glory, the club needs a quick turnaround in form on the pitch and the owner has demanded of every coach a Finals appearance in the first two years or they are out the door. It will take a foreign coach at least a season in most cases to learn the intricacies of the A-League. This is a unique football league with the salary cap and no transfers and limits on squad numbers, foreign players and the inclusion of a set number of players under 21. That will take time to come to terms with. Littbarski was lucky he was there in season one so knew what he had to do and Sydney, as we now know broke the salary cap to entice the best players to what was then, the blue riband club.

If we look at Graham Arnold briefly, he has learned the hard way that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Ange Postecoglou had a brief spell coaching in Greece after great success in the NSL. He struggled and returned to Australia. Arnold thought having played in Japan he would be able to show he was ready to coach overseas, it has not worked out that way. At the Central Coast Mariners Arnold inherited a squad with great deal of depth. He was lucky that Jess Van Stratten succumbed to injury as the promotion of Matt Ryan in goal was a revelation for the team. With Trent Sainsbury and the experienced Patrick Zwaanswijk in central defence they became a very hard team to break down. He will have Danny Vukovic in goal but a central defensive pairing at Perth Glory will need to be found. Funnily enough the man who helped him win the league, Daniel McBreen, he loaned to Perth Glory as he did not want him at the club, only McBreen’s goals leading Perth Glory to a first finals appearance convinced him to keep him. Arnold had a squad that had been consistently in finals under Lawrie McKinna, and what he did was use the experience of working with Guus Hiddink and Pim Verbeek to take them to the Championship. Building a new team is a different challenge.

Mark Rudan won NSL Premierships with Sydney United and played in Grand Finals he also won the A-League in its inaugural season with Sydney FC. He has played overseas in Japan, China, Malaysia, Germany and Switzerland, so would have gained key experience during that time. Having played in the A-League and captained sides he will be familiar with the unique challenges. He has had success in the NPL in New South Wales with his former club Sydney United, but it could be seen as a risk giving the role to an untried coach in terms of the A-League. However unless someone takes a risk how else will the likes of Rudan ever gain such an opportunity?

Miron Bleiberg has a great deal going in his favour. One man who managed to get those not interested in football follow Perth Glory was NSL coach German Bernd Stange. Bleiberg is renowned for Mourinho-esque quotes that are sure to keep the sporting scribes interested. Unlike Stange, Bleiberg is not just about sound bytes. He has experience and can deliver where it matters on the pitch. When he was the inaugural coach of Queensland Roar – who later became Brisbane Roar – he plucked Massimo Murdocca from the state league in Victoria, Sasha Ognenovski from the state League in Queensland, gave Dario Vidosic and Robbie Kruse a break, the last four who all went on to play for the Socceroos. He knows how to spot talent and mould it into a team playing attractive football.

Bleiberg had the Roar playing attractive football but in 2005/06 season he resigned with the club in fourth position on the ladder. He resurfaced at the Clive Palmer owned Gold Coast United, and this would again put him in good stead to work with Perth Glory owner Tony Sage; Two owners with large egos that need a strong man to stand up to them. Again Gold Coast played some good football and Bleiberg showed an eye for spotting talent, he signed Eritrean Golgol Mebrahtu after spotting him training by himself and recognised him from a previous scouting mission; Mebrahtu is now with Melbourne Heart. Bleiberg is a successful businessman in his own right, has coached in the NSL and is one of those rare breed of A-League coaches prepared to go back to the state league and coach, because he loves the game that much. He is currently coach of Oakleigh Cannons who sit top of the Victorian NPL not yet having lost in 2014. He has experience, can spot talent, has the personality to engage the public, the media and the fans, and he knows the A-League. Could he be what Perth Glory require at this point in time.

The last man is Kenny Lowe the current caretaker coach.Thrust into a dressing room full of discontent he faced a difficult task of turning the club around on the pitch. His job was made all the more harder with injuries to key senior players such as Travis Dodd, Shane Smletz, and William Gallas, and then the departure of player of the season Danny Vukovic made it even harder. Lowe tried to be honest with the fans while keeping the dream of making the finals alive, but the truth was the team wasn’t good enough and the squad lacked the required depth. Unfortunately some of his attempts at humour also fell flat, and he failed to engage the fans. Lowe is one of the best development coaches of that there can be no doubt, but his lack of success with the senior team has, possibly unfairly, raised issues over whether he knows how to coach a team to win; after years of saying results didn’t matter he struggled to deliver when they did. His record of three wins, four draws and ten losses in seventeen games, and with only rare moments of football to savour, have led many to feel he is not the man to take the team forward. Yet as they say possession is nine tenths of the law, he is the man in the role and the club have to find someone they know will bring more to the table than the current coach, and on a similar salary.That may prove harder than they thought.

With the club still making a loss and crowds dwindling at the end of the season, despite the club reporting an increase in average crowds; free tickets sadly are not declared as that figure may be a lot different if they were. Membership we have been told is at a record level by the Chairman, but is in fact believed to be just under 4300, still well below the levels of previous years. Merchandise sales are up, so it is not all bad news. The truth is the club once again needs a coach who engages the fans, does not spout cliches and has a passion that matches theirs.

It will be interesting to see who is unveiled in the coming fortnight to take the club forward. The club is never going to please everyone, but one thing that is definite is they have to get it right this time.

Who would you like to see fill the role?

April 13, 2014 at 6:02 pm 2 comments

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