Posts tagged ‘Michael Thwaite’

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

FFA Backed Into A Corner

Credit must go to Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe and his players for keeping their minds focussed on their game after what proved to be a very tough week in the lead up to games over the Christmas period.

The club was accused of breaches of the salary cap by the Sydney Morning Herald. Yet the players responded the only way they could by continuing their unbeaten run with a 4-1 win at home against Central Coast Mariners and a 1-1 draw against Melbourne City.

To many the accusations did not come as a great surprise. Neither did Chairman Tony Sage’s response that the accusations were “bullshit” according to the Sunday Times.

What was interesting following the proceedings was that initially the head of the A-League Damien de Bohun told The World Game that there was nothing to worry about on December 15th. He was quoted as saying in relation to Michael Thwaite and Nebojsa Marinkovic being upgraded to marquee players “Dates, in terms of when contracts are lodged with us, the reality is that it’s a dynamic environment,” he said. “Different players are signed up before the season starts, some contracts carry over and in the january transfer window, some players go and new players come in.” A very Political response.

Yet the FFA Player regulations state quite clearly under section 7.23 “A Club cannot 1. (a)  change the status of a Player on the Player Roster;”

However more telling is section 7.18 which 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, Homegrown Player, Guest Player, Replacement Player or Contracted NYL Player.” The key phrase being, “before it concludes any contractual negotiations.”

Interestingly two days after that initial story, the same Damien de Bohun who said there was nothing to worry about, advised the Sydney Morning Herald “FFA has noted the allegations raised about Perth Glory and we’ve spoken to the club today. FFA is looking into these matters in line with the usual salary cap compliance practices.” Why the sudden change? Are these the actions of an organisation or a man in control of the competition he runs?

Word is on the 18th while the club was trying to appease the media and douse down the flames, coach Kenny Lowe was behind closed doors with CEO Jason Brewer trying to work a way out of the situation the club found itself in.

According to The World Game, and confirmed by the FFA, Perth Glory had the change in status to the two aforementioned players approved on October 22, two games into the regular season. A decision that goes against the tournament’s own competition rules. How can this possibly happen many fans of other clubs will be asking?

The answer is simple, the Football Federation of Australia cannot afford for Perth Glory owner Tony Sage to walk away while they already have two A-League clubs perilously close to collapse, Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets. At present their focus is keeping these two clubs afloat and maintaining a ten team competition.

It was easier to allow Perth Glory to change the status of these two players, – who are questionable in terms of marquee player status – than to fine the club or deduct points. Perth Glory has been desperate for success, and as much as they will try and deny it the A-league needs Adelaide United and Perth Glory to be contenders. Every club in the A-League has been looking at ways to circumnavigate the salary cap, Perth Glory is not alone in that. If true, one can understand the leadership at the club feeling that it was time to go for broke, and that the FFA was in its weakest position to punish the club for fear of the ultimate consequences, the owner walking away.

The biggest question all this  raises is should the salary cap now be discarded? Did it really make for an even competition? Seven of the nine Championships have gone to three clubs. Only Sydney FC of those three clubs have won a Championship without winning the Premiership, while Central Coast have won two Premierships and one Grand Final. Three teams have won six of the nine Premierships.

It will be interesting to see how the FFA react should they find irregularities, will or rather can the A-League afford for David Gallop to take such strong action as he did with Melbourne Storm when head of the NRL? Will Glory escape with just a fine if found guilty or will they lose points as well, as Terry Butcher’s Sydney did; the coach punished for the crimes of his predecessors. We will all have to wait and see, one thing is for sure this is one storm the FFA could do without at the current time.

In the meantime Kenny Lowe and his team can just keep on doing what they have been doing so well all season, winning games!

December 29, 2014 at 10:17 am 6 comments

One Man’s Choice.

The news that Perth Glory are in discussions with veteran French Defender William Gallas about signing for the club for season 2014/15 must surely be an ominous sign for fans. It would also not be good news for new coach Kenny Lowe.

Lowe’s first signing after being unveiled as full time coach was returning defender 31 year old Dino Djulbic. A player expected to partner 2014 Most Glorious Player award winner Michael Thwaite in the heart of the defense. So why would the club sign Djulbic if they were looking to sign Gallas, and how must he feel on hearing this news?

If there were concerns that the Djulbic and Thwaite partnership could be exposed by pace, re-signing Gallas is not going to allay those fears.

Kenny Lowe stated in a recent article that his defensive stocks are strong and most would agree. With Danny Vukovic in goal and an expected first choice back line of a returning from injury Josh Risdon and Scott Jameson on the flanks, with Djulbic and Thwaite in the middle it looks very solid. As back up you have more than adequate cover in the likes of Brandon O’Neill, Jack Clisby and Matt Davies who all did well when they played this year.

As Lowe stated he needs to strengthen the midfield. He also needs to find midfielders with discipline to link with the likes of Risdon and Jameson and who will drop in when these two push forward.

If Perth Glory is to play in a similar style to this season when Lowe took over as interim coach, he is going to have to instil discipline into the Brazilian Sidnei if the side is not to be exposed on the counterattack.

It was baffling to many fans that the inconsistent Brazilian was given a two-year deal by the club before a coach was appointed. Yes, he has flashes of brilliance and the ability to turn a game, but there is a reason he is playing in the A-League and not in a higher league. He lacks discipline, and based on his performances this season is a very selfish player. He spent far too much time on the ground and shamming for free kicks, this season rest assured referees will not be so lenient. When he lost the ball in the final third he rarely chased back or harried the opposition to win back possession; something every Brisbane Roar player does and why they often force opposition teams into mistakes. Perth Glory needs Sidnei and others to do the same.

If Glory is going to persist with using the flanks to unlock the opposition defence then as Lowe again stated he needs to strengthen his attacking stocks. At present none of the Glory strike force are what you call a “target man”; a player the wide players can pick out with their crosses, who can power a header on goal or set up fellow strikers with a knock down.

If Glory are to climb from the bottom half of the table into the top, Lowe needs to use all of his allocated squad places carefully by signing players he knows, not that he thinks might, will deliver what he is after. He needs to be sure to have that depth in midfield and upfront so if a player is struggling for form he has a player who can step in and do a job. Sadly this season he was hampered by the fact that his too many of his young charges were learning their roles; Jamie Maclaren returning from good performances in Blackburn Rovers Youth teams never looked a natural central striker despite Alistair Edwards being sure that was his best position. Had he been able to establish a partnership with a strike partner it may have been a very different season for the youngster, but sadly injuries prevented that happening.

Kenny Lowe deserves to be given the best chance to bring together a squad that he thinks can perform consistently. He should not have big name players thrust upon him. Club owner Tony Sage originally claimed former coach Alistair Edwards signed Gallas, then contradicted this statement by saying he only gets involved with Marquee signings. He came out before the end of the season saying that Gallas had not given a return on the pitch, which many would agree with; However its very hard as a defender in a struggling team. It therefore seems strange the club is keen to keep him.

From a team perspective if Lowe is to sacrifice one of his squad places to accommodate Gallas, it will be very unfair on the new coach. He does not need another defender. It is a totally unnecessary signing. This news coming the same day as the exciting and impressive-when-he-played Adrian Zahra was released has fans scratching their heads as to what direction the club is heading. Is it really pursuing a youth policy? One thing it does is put added pressure on the coach before a ball is kicked.

That is why the coach should fill every slot in his squad with players he wants. He should make the decisions and he alone. On that he can be judged.

May 9, 2014 at 8:22 pm Leave a comment

The Winner Is… Not that Important.

They say that silence is golden and with a lack of silverware let alone gold, that may explain the latest lack of communication from Perth Glory.

Many were uninvited, some unable to attend, and some could not justify the price of admission to the club’s Most Glorious Player Awards at Crown Casino on friday night. On occasion, in previous years as with other sports, the winners of the various awards have been announced in an embargoed press release, but with twitter and the like one can understand why that does not happen any more. However one would have expected a press release to have been sent out once the winner was announced, as with modern technology it could have been sent from a phone or an iPad, no one needed to go into the office to send it.

Two days have passed since defender Michael Thwaite was honoured as the Most Glorious Player for 2013/14 but still no media release has been sent out, or maybe it has but only to a select few. Not only that but the club’s website does not even have an announcement as to who won the major award and all of the other awards on the night, such as Young Player of the Year and Clubman of the Year.

What sort of message does this send to the playing group? Sure it may have been a disappointing season, but to some of these players winning such an award will be a highlight in their career, to give it so little importance is disrespectful, and a very poor reflection on the club as a whole.

Coupled with the fact that original invitations were apparently sent out without the date of the event on them, and the club forgot to invite its radio broadcast partner, the ABC, who were meant to present an award, its hard to believe that the club is in fact now on the right track.

 

May 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm 2 comments

Neill Under Fire – Is It Warranted?

In sport as you come to the end of your career you have two choices, you either wait until your are dropped from the top team, or you opt to step aside before that day comes. That is a fact in whatever level of any sport you play.

Socceroos captain Lucas Neill has copped an immense amount of flak in the past week because he has not decided to announce his retirement from the international side. Has this criticism been fair? Is Neill playing as well as he was at his peak? Probably not, the key question is who has staked a claim to take his place?

What has been interesting is that other fading international stars have avoided attacks on their performances, which have also not been of the same standard as they were able to produce at their peak. Also many of those baying for Neill’s head, have failed to offer alternatives.

By taking the decision to play on, rather than retire, Neill and many of the other senior Socceroos are no doubt well aware that their international career is going to come to an end when they are dropped from the side. It is therefore interesting that former coach Holger Osieck – who is still listed on the FFA website as national coach six days after being fired! – continually thought Neill was the best man for the job, so too did his interim replacement Aurelio Vidmar for the game against Canada.

If we look at players to have played in defence for the Socceroos of late how many of the following players have the experience and are honestly better than Lucas Neill? Some have the potential to be, and some never will. The players to have played at the back for Australia in recent times are: Robert Cornthwaite, Matt McKay, Ryan MacGowan, Luke Wilkshire, Rhys Williams, Sasha Ognenovski, Ivan Franjic, Michael Thwaite, Jade North, Mark Milligan and Michael Zullo.

Four of these players are 26 or younger, two are 28 years old and six are 30 years of age or older. Age should never be a barrier, but it does have an impact in international football, especially at the World Cup Finals. Spain who won the last world cup in 2010 had an average in age in their squad of 25.9.

Australia in South Africa had the third oldest squad with an average age of 28.4, only England (28.7) and Brazil (28.6) had older squads. Ghana had the youngest at 24.1. Germany’s was averaging just 25.

Going through a transitional period, Australia needs some wise heads in the side to support the new blood coming up so are unlikely to field a side as young as Germany or Ghana, but that should be a goal down the track.

If we look at the Socceroos team its not one individual’s fault that the team has lost heavily to Brazil and France. Despite television analysis showing players out of position before a goal is scored frequently it is several circumstances in the build up to a goal that lead to a goal and rarely is it just one player’s fault. It is a fact Australia is going through a transitional period and many of the young up and coming players have not made the adjustment to international football yet, some never will, and some have been overlooked.

The sad fact for Lucas Neill is as a defender when goals are conceded people point the finger, when a striker misses much less is made of his failings. The truth is whether you like Neill or not by playing in the J-League he is still playing a higher standard of football than what is on offer by playing in the A-League, and with many of the international pool of players struggling for game time he is still one of our best options. If you look at the list of players mentioned and recognise that some of them have played in midfield for the national team, how many would you pick ahead of Neill?

One thing that none of his critics have spoken about is his leadership, something that many who have played alongside him have commented positively on. HIs experience and knowledge has to be an asset to the team, playing or not at this point in time.

Australia has not performed badly because of Lucas Neill. Anyone who claims that has been brainwashed by the certain sections of the media who appear to have targeted him as a scapegoat and have chosen him to pay for issues that go beyond football. Yes, the new coach may well drop him, Neill will be aware of that, and will no doubt take it on the chin when it happens. Will it change Australia’s fortunes? Maybe, the focus however should be on finding a player/players who can come in and perform regularly better than the current incumbents; and currently In Neill’s case there are few names jumping out to be picked.

October 17, 2013 at 11:27 am 1 comment

Ferguson Shown the Door

There was a certain symmetry to Ian Ferguson’s dismissal as coach at Perth Glory, in as much as he started his reign with a string of losses and he finished it as he started.

According to club chairman Tony Sage, Ferguson mutually agreed to step down, but one cannot help believing that the combative Ferguson would have certainly wanted to fight his way out of the club’s current situation rather than walk away. As a player he never shirked a challenge, and as a man he would never back away from one either.

Ferguson’s record as a coach is average. In the Hyundai A League at North Queensland Fury and Perth Glory he coached 99 games for 31 wins, 22 draws and 46 losses. He did last season steer the club to the Grand Final, but how much was that down to a quirk of fate and how much down to inspired coaching?

Last season the team went on a run that saw them lose eight games, draw one and win one, and then forced by injury and suspensions Ferguson selected Steve McGarry and Steve Pantelidis, and these two players coming in to the side turned the team around and helped them on their march into the Grand Final.

This season the club has entered a similar slump but Ferguson has not had the experience of players similar to these two to call upon to drag the team out of the rut. Some may say he is paying the price of not blooding the youngsters and giving them more experience so that he had some cover. Others will say the tightening of the purse strings this season certainly did not help his cause. As despite a strong squad that should be sitting at the other end of the table, this year’s group of players lacks the experience of last years.

Ferguson’s downfall may well have been trying to negotiate the quagmire of politics that have held the club back over the past five years. Trying to keep everyone happy and hang onto a job is no easy task. Ferguson was recently forced to let key players depart the club in order to save the owner money, as contracts run through to mid year well after the season is over – and money was not made available to bring in players with similar experience as replacements.

Following Michael Thwaite’s outburst a week ago Ferguson who had also commented on how he found players leaving before the season was over frustrating revealed owner Tony Sage had health issues; no doubt trying to protect the owner from a player criticising him, but it backfired. “I wasn’t happy Fergie mentioned my health” Sage said at the press conference before revealing that this had nothing to do with the coach being shown the door.

Sage also did not agree that budget constraints had anything to do with the team underachieving this season.

Western Australians and former players Alistair Edwards and Gareth Naven have taken over until the end of the season and have a tough task ahead of them. They will be popular appointments, and both have a strong belief in giving youth a chance, so there may be a number of young local boys given a chance to prove themselves before the season is out, and that can’t be a bad thing with little left to play for except pride. As for next season we will have to wait and see…

 

 

 

 

February 11, 2013 at 12:48 pm 1 comment


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