Perth Glory spent the majority of the season at the top of the ladder, but a salary cap scandal sent them crashing back down to Earth. Can they put that behind them and return to the summit this time around?
Team: Perth Glory
Manager: Kenny Lowe
Captain: Richard Garcia
Ins: Alex Grant (Stoke City), György Sándor (Videoton FC), Diego Castro (Getafe CF), Guyon Fernandez (NAC Breda), Ante Covic (Western Sydney Wanderers), Jerrad Tyson (HK Pegasus), Anthony Golec (Western Sydney Wanderers), Slobodan Vulin (South Melbourne), Hagi Gligor (Sydney FC), Marc Warren (APIA Leichhardt),
Outs: Danny Vukovic (Melbourne Victory), Denis Kramar (end of loan), Jamie McLaren (Brisbane Roar), Scott Jamieson (Western Sydney Wanderers), Dragan Paljic (1. CFR Pforzheim), Cameron Edwards (Putrajaya), Rostyn Griffiths (Roda JC), Riley Woodcock (Sydney FC), Andy Keogh (Ratchaburi FC), Daniel De Silva (Roda JC),
Last Season: 7th
2014-15 was… A Greek tragedy of the highest proportions. Perth spent 16 weeks in a row on top of the A-League ladder and looked set to bring the club back to it’s glory (cough-cough) days of the NSL. However, disaster struck when the rumours of severe salary cap breaches came true. Heavy fines were imposed on the Glory and they were banished from the finals despite finishing third on the ladder, ultimately reward Brisbane Roar for a lacklustre season.
Last season, Perth were formidable. They were a tough opponent for teams to face, highlighted by their strong spine of Dino Djulbic, Michael Thwaite, Griffiths, Nebojsa Marinkovic and Keogh. The Irishman Keogh was an immense addition to their squad last season and at stages through the season led the Golden Boot. However, his real workload came in defense when he was usually the only player pressing the opposition defensive line – a clear tactic of Lowes.
After the salary cap scandal, it was obviously the players and fans that were hurt the most, but there were still positive signs last year amid the disaster.
2014-15 will be… A year of rebuilding after their squad was gutted by the salary cap drama. A number of first team players left the club as a result, including Keogh, Jamieson, Vukovic and Griffiths.
Young forwards McLaren and De Silva left, however, their moves were not due to wage cuts. McLaren, who was Perth’s super-sub last season, has moved to Brisbane in desperate need of game time, while De Silva had a deal signed with Roma before last season.
De Silva’s move to Roma eventually fell through but he was still able to secure a European move to Dutch side Roda JC along with Griffths.
This season will be a new-look Glory, but with the groundwork Lowe built last season it should be an easy transition. Despite his age, 33-year-old Spaniard Diego Castro is an excellent addition having spent the last seven seasons playing regularly in La Liga with Getafe and Sporting Gijón.
Brazilian Sidnei was on of the best players in the league when he began with Glory two seasons ago, but ongoing injuries cruelled his season last time around. If he can stay fit, a Perth midfield and forward line consisting of foreigners Sandor, Fernandez, Castro and Sidnei will be formidable.
Key Player: Dino Djulbic. The Bosnian-born Australian centre-back is a true leader for Perth. He isn’t the club captain, but he is the marshal at the back that solidifies the team and defuses attacks.
When Perth put most of their players behind the ball, Djulbic is given much of the responsibility in structuring the defensive lines and ordering the side to push forward during counter attacks. Having lost Griffiths and Vukovic, Djulbic is one of the keys to Perth being able to continue their form from last year. He is also one of the most dominating and intimidating figures in the league.
What, or whom, do Perth need? A dynamic forward line. At times last season, Perth looked one-dimensional in transition and with the use of their outlet Keogh. Fernandez and Sidnei need to hit their strides and offer width and zing to Perth’s attacks.
With a solid base behind them, a skilful forward line could profit immensely from Perth’s system.
But with an untried side, it may take a number of rounds for Perth to really click in attack and by then it will probably be too late to really challenge for either of the titles on offer.
The Blog FC Predicted Finish: 6th