Monday, August 20, 2007
A-League Anticipation, Part 7
Last season was, by and large, a disaster for the West Australians. Although they did well to reach this year's pre-season final, and although the off-field problems seem to be sorting themselves out, the outlook for 2007/08 is fairly grim.
Signing the injury-prone Hayden Foxe was always going to be risky, and indeed the curse has hit again, with Foxe likely to miss the entire first “round” of the competition. Stan Lazaridis, last season’s marquee man, is still under suspension…for how long, nobody quite seems to know.
Two other Socceroo hopefuls of yesteryear, Nick Rizzo and Anthony Danze, have made the trek home. Of these, Rizzo may go some way towards filling the left-wing gap occasioned by the absence of Lazaridis, while Danze should add some spine to the midfield.
It’s a sure sign of Ron Smith’s paucity of options up front that Jamie Harnwell has been pencilled in as a striker once again. An experienced campaigner in Eastern European football, Mate Dragicevic, has been lured down under, and there is also young Nikita Rukavystya, who showed some good form in his cameo appearances last season. Hardly an array of striking options to make the other clubs quake in their boots, it must be said. How the Perth faithful might end up missing Bobby Despotovski.
In defence, Nikolai Topor-Stanley has made the journey across the Nullarbor from Sydney FC; he’s excellent in the air and is a tenacious man-marker, but offers little otherwise…as yet. Ron Smith apparently intends to use him as a left-back; I'm not sure that this will prove a wise deployment, given that Topor-Stanley’s most effective performances for Sydney were in the centre.
It’s not all doom and gloom; Simon Colosimo, who shrugged off his poor first season in the league to deliver a solid string of performances last term, is still there to anchor the midfield; Leo Bertos will pose danger on the right, and David Tarka has, in my opinion, been improving steadily throughout the first two years of the competition. This season could see him really step up as Perth Glory’s rock in the centre of defence.
Perth will be competitive, but it’s difficult to see them making the finals this time around.