Thursday, July 27, 2006
A-League Anticipation, Part 5
It is sad to see the club that once represented all that was progressive in the Australian game reduced to its current vassal status. At least now they have a new coach, and a CEO with prior experience in football.
On the playing front, things are not looking quite so bad, although the need for an extra striker is plainly apparent. The ageing pair of Despotovski and Young can hardly be expected to carry the burden up front for the entire season, and the loss of Damian Mori, with his composure, superb positioning and precise finishing, is a serious blow.
A tug-of-war with the New Zealand Knights over South African Keryn Jordan is still unresolved, and Perth may need to move quickly for an alternative if the 30-year-old striker, having a prolific time of it in the New Zealand league, should slip through their fingers.
Talking of New Zealand, there is now a distinct Kiwi tinge to the Perth squad, with the addition of Adrian Webster and Leo Bertos during the winter. Bertos will be one of the league’s more interesting additions; Australian football followers might remember him as the serpentine little winger who regularly embarrassed the highly-rated (until then, anyway) defender Shane Cansdell-Sherriff during the Oceania Olympic playoff two years ago.
He has certainly made a bright beginning in a Glory shirt, scoring an impressive solo goal in the opening pre-season match against the Mariners, and playing an important role in their equaliser against Melbourne on Saturday.
On the other wing, Stan Lazaridis has arrived back in his hometown after an illustrious career in England. If he can stay fit and sharp, he will surely pose opposition defences a multitude of problems this season.
With the addition of Bertos and Lazaridis, Perth should be able to cope with the absence of Ishida and Caceres. The loss of Nick Ward, however, is more serious. After a wonderful 2005/06 season, the lure of Europe proved irresistible for the youngster; in his absence, Perth’s attacking options in the centre of midfield do not appear extensive. There are high hopes for the young Josip Magdic, who has stepped up from the WA state league, and he did indeed show some flashes of quality against the Mariners in his brief time on the park.
Simon Colosimo is a better player that last season’s performances would suggest, and Perth fans must be hoping he will show some of the form that made him, in the eyes of many, a viable alternative to Vince Grella in the Socceroos midfield not long ago. Currently he is sidelined, but he should be back in action by August.
The acquisition of a new goalkeeper will be one of the new coach’s priorities. Jason Petkovic was injured in the match against Melbourne, and Ron Smith is currently left with only young Aleks Vrteski as backup, a player who failed to enthuse outgoing caretaker Alan Vest.
The appointment of Ron Smith has been welcomed in Australian football circles, and with good reason; his qualifications and experience easily eclipse those of his new managerial colleagues in the A-League. Nevertheless, it’s quite a while since he was involved in day-to-day club management; it might take a little while for him to settle in properly.
If the likes of Lazaridis, Bertos, Colosimo and Despotovski find some form, and if the squad stays relatively injury-free, Perth could yet have a season to be proud of.
Lazaridis, I'm sure, will be a crowd favourite everywhere he goes.
Interesting you should say that, during the Mariners-Glory game Bobby D. looked like a bit of a lost soul to me. The sort of understanding he had with Mori takes a long time to cultivate, so Perth might be a bit blunt up front early on this season, I feel.
One I forgot to mention, too, is Matt Horsley. He'll be missed; not a spectacular player, but always in the game, always up for it. I remember when he filled in at centre-half against us halfway through last season (and I can't remember seeing him play there all that often before). He was superb.