Bouncing back from last season’s disastrous salary cap scandal won’t be easy for Glory, who’ve had to deal with a serious turnover of players in the off-season.
Coach Kenny Lowe has preached continuity and said he’s got a squad of players “who want to be there”, but it’s hard to ignore the loss of key players such as Danny Vukovic, Rostyn Griffiths, Scott Jamieson, Danny De Silva, James Maclaren and Andy Keogh.
The replacements don’t appear to have the same quality and this squad seems short on depth. The club itself is trying to rebuild its reputation, let alone shoot for titles, so there’s no doubt 2014-15 will be a campaign full of challenges for the former NSL powerhouse.
Neil Sherwin, long-term Perth Glory fan & WA based Football Sack writer
Last year was painful, so what are the expectations for the season ahead?
The expectation for any A-League supporter each season has to be to make finals given that 60 per cent of the teams get a spot. Glory had a wonderful regular campaign last time round, only to have it spoiled by the salary cap fiasco that has left many disillusioned.
New CEO Peter Filopoulos certainly talks a good game but Glory fans have had their fair share of lip service in recent years so there is no room for error off the park this season.
On it, Glory have essentially turned over an entire squad in the last 12 to 18 months, losing everything from established A-League veterans to promising young prospects. It will be extremely difficult to match last season’s third place finish, especially with the likes of Melbourne City strengthening their squad, so making finals would be satisfactory.
A home semi-final in the FFA Cup is a nice bonus, and exactly the sort of feel good story the club needs before the season proper kicks off. Going one better than 2014 by lifting the trophy would go a long way to mending a few fences.
What are the lessons learnt from last year?
The obvious answer here is to make sure the books are in order. That aside, Glory finally learnt to win away from home and picked up some brilliant results, including three points at Wellington, Victory, Sydney and Wanderers. That success could be partly due to better preparation for away games.
Keeping a settled defence is key to any title or finals aspirations. Danny Vukovic and Scott Jamieson have left the club but with Josh Risdon, Dino Djulbic and Michael Thwaite still around, Glory have solid foundations.
Is Kenny Lowe the right man for Glory?
It’s a tough one because the success of finishing third last season is tainted by the salary cap breaches and critics will correctly ask where Glory would have finished without some of the players they had.
On the flipside, Lowe is the sort of character that Glory needs at the helm. He kicks every ball with the players and fans, and showed just how much the role means to him when last season fell apart. Lowe has earned another crack at it, though it will be interesting to see how he goes with having more limited options.
Who’s the bolter in the squad?
Deep-lying midfielder Mitchell Oxborrow has been talked about as a prospect for a number of years and he looks ready to get more first team minutes under his belt, with Rostyn Griffiths gone and Ruben Zadkovich struggling for fitness. While not a physical presence, he is very comfortable on the ball and, in a cameo against the Western Sydney in the FFA Cup, he showed an eagerness to pick the ball up off the centre backs to start the attack.
Oxborrow has a good pedigree from the WA NTC, as well as the AIS, and has represented Australia at under-age level, including at the 2011 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Mexico. Now 20, it’s time he began to assert himself at senior level and he should get some opportunities to do so this season.
Why they’ll do well
Glory are defensively sound, particularly on the road where they are rock solid, conceding only 11 goals last term. Of course, there has been plenty of players leave, but in that backline, central defensive duo Dino Djulbic and Michael Thwaite, along with future Socceroos right-back Josh Risdon. The addition of the experienced Ante Covic to replace Danny Vukovic should ensure things remain tight.
Perth’s run to the FFA Cup semi-finals is reason for optimism, given it has included two wins over A-League opposition. Lowe talk of continuity has some substance and there is a positive vibe among the playing squad, despite all their issues.
Why they’ll do badly
Put simply, this is a side which appears to lack a reliable source of goals. A lot depends on how Dutchman Guyon Fernandez adjusts to life in Australia and settles in the side, but the big striker’s style suggests he won’t be as prolific as a goalsneak like Keogh. The Irishman and Maclaren scored 21 of the club’s 45 goals last term.
This is a side which lacks quality squad depth. It should be remembered last season’s pseudo third-place finish, and remarkable start to the season, came as a shock to many who had judged them based on the look of their squad. With several stars gone, it’s hard to expect similar heroics.
Cohesion. It’s very rare that a team who’ve lost six first-team regulars gets together in pre-season and instantly jells. Lowe and Glory have work to do and you’d expect new signings such as Diego Castro, Gyorgy Sandor and Fernandez to take time to learn each other’s styles and movements.
The big questions
Can the foreigners lift Glory?
Castro, Sandor and Fernandez are the big unknowns out west. Castro arrives after a long career in Spain’s highly regarded La Liga. Sandor lands fresh from winning the Hungarian league title and Fernandez’s CV boasts plenty of goals in the Eredivisie and he even scored in PEC Zwolle’s Dutch Cup final triumph last year against Ajax.
Is Ante Covic too old?
At 40-years-old, Covic is seen as a short-term fix at Glory, but having won last year’s AFC Champions League MVP he’s clearly still got it. In many ways, Covic is a gamble for Glory which could go either way.
Will the real Kenny Lowe please stand up?
Lowe’s interim period in charge of Glory in 2013-14 was dismal, claiming four wins in 17 games. Then he won the job full-time to everyone’s surprise, only to lead Glory on a stunning run early last term. They eventually faded, but he showed he’s no mug. Is he capable of more surprises?
Key player: Guyon Fernandez
The 29-year-old ex-Feyenoord hitman is Glory’s only recognized striker on their books at the time of writing. With Keogh and Maclaren gone, he’ll bear a big responsibility up front. His record in the Netherlands was approximately one goal every three games, Perth will need better.
What they’ll be saying come April
Glory just didn’t have the quality on the park to hit the back of the net with any regularity, costing them a shot at the top four.
It’s hard to see Glory repeating last season’s pseudo run, but don’t discount them from the finals race.
Diego Castro (Getafe)
Guyon Fernandez (NAC Breda)
Antony Golec (Western Sydney Wanderers)
Alex Grant (Stoke City)
Jerrad Tyson (Sun Pegasus)
Hagi Gligor (Sydney FC)
Ante Covic (Western Sydney Wanderers)
Gyorgy Sandor (Videoton)
Marc Warren (APIA Leichhardt Tigers)
Rostyn Griffiths (Roda JC)
Danny De Silva (Roda JC)
Danny Vukovic (Melbourne Victory)
Scott Jamieson (Western Sydney Wanderers)
Jamie Maclaren (Brisbane Roar)
Andy Keogh (Ratchaburi)
Riley Woodcock (Sydney FC)
Youssouf Hersi (released)
Jack Duncan (Randers)comments