Does Kenny Lowe make Perth Glory a better team?

Tim Palmer Columnist

By Tim Palmer, Tim Palmer is a Roar Expert

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    A month ago, Perth Glory secured victory over Wellington Phoenix, then travelled to Brisbane five days later and won 2-1, putting them in the A-League top six.

    This past weekend, Kosta Barbarouses scored in stoppage time to consign Kenny Lowe’s side to their fourth consecutive defeat, a result that has intensified the discussion about the team’s direction.

    This has been previously discussed, yet many of the issues that have been raised over Lowe’s four-year tenure remain unanswered. The biggest question, and probably the key consideration when assessing coaches, is whether they improve their teams. Does Lowe?

    Broadly speaking, Perth’s strengths are their counter attacking and the quality of individual players in the front third, but it’s arguable these are related; counter attacking teams have the ball less often than possession teams, but the attacking moments are generally more productive because you attack into more space and against overloaded defences. As a result, better players tend to stand out when they have more space to attack in.

    It is possible to argue that Perth aren’t that good at counter-attacking, but if you accept that they are, is it because of Lowe’s coaching or because of the type of players they have?

    Perth don’t score many, and they concede a lot, too – the most in the competition this season. This is down to the lack of a settled back four, the lack of protection from central midfielders (particularly when Mitch Nichols is used in a deeper role), and a general lack of defensive compactness from front to back.

    Lowe tends to use a 4-4-2, and when he does, the front two don’t work particularly hard to stay connected with the midfield four. Therefore, when opponents play past the first line of pressure, the central midfielders are drawn forward to apply pressure on the ball, leaving gaps in front of the back four that are exposed by clever attackers.

    Even when Perth do defend compactly, gaps still appear. In the 6-0 mauling at the hands of Sydney FC in the New Year, for example, the wide players were asked to track Sydney’s full-backs, even into deep positions, to prevent them from receiving the ball in time and space in wide areas.

    The problem was, both Luke Wilkshire and Michael Zullo simply pushed up as far as they could go, so that Diego Castro and Chris Harold ended up almost as part of Perth’s back four, creating a back six. This then caused problems for the central midfield pair, who suddenly had gaps on either side of them that could be exploited by Milos Ninkovic and Adrian Mierzejewski.

    The same pattern proved problematic in the same fixture earlier this season, when VAR controversy overshadowed a fairly straightforward 2-0 win for Sydney. Again, Lowe asked his wingers to track the full-backs, and again, space opened up in the pockets either side of the midfield duo.

    Incredibly though, in spite of these problems when defending, Perth had even bigger problems in attack.

    In the 6-0 thrashing, Sydney’s opening goal came from a three-pass move on the counter, where Mierzejewski was able to break beyond the central midfielders and carry the ball into the vacant 40 metres of space between Perth’s midfield and defence. Similarly, against Adelaide United, the opening goal came from a turnover wherein Adelaide’s front three could directly attack against Perth’s exposed centre-backs.

    Perth have their moments, but they always feel as a consequence of the quality of individual players rather than a collective gameplan. Diego Castro is brilliant in one-on-ones and can create something out of nothing, Jacob Italiano has been a revelation for similar reasons, and Andy Keogh is one of the league’s better strikers.

    Andy Keogh and teammates Perth Glory

    AAP Image/Joe Castro

    Beyond that though, Lowe has not moulded the squad into a harmonious attacking unit. There is a lot of pace and hard running from the likes of Chris Harold, Joel Chianese and Mitch Nichols, but little evidence of combination plays or cohesive attacking patterns to break down opponents.

    If the coach’s job is to improve his team, then it is hard to see how Lowe has genuinely progressed over the last four years.

    From a tactical perspective, Perth epitomise the league’s current malaise, but more concerningly, they simply are not very good. It feels like there is no big picture to their game plan – how do they want to play? – and no small details within it – where do the midfielders stand to stop counterattacks?

    Altogether, it points to a lack of direction.

    Tim Palmer
    Tim Palmer

    Tim is a football coach, writer, analyst and sports scientist. He has worked with the Socceroos in an analysis role, has completed the FFA B Licence, is currently a player in the Australian Deaf Football Team and coaches in the NSW NPL. You can follow him on Twitter @timpalmerftbl.

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    The Crowd Says (55)

    • January 17th 2018 @ 6:31am
      Kanga Baartz said | January 17th 2018 @ 6:31am | ! Report

      Apart from an ageing Castro and Keogh

      , the rest of the team is made up of a few blokes Kenny found at Pinnochio’s night club .

      • January 17th 2018 @ 7:35am
        punter said | January 17th 2018 @ 7:35am | ! Report

        Kanga, there is a reason why Jacob Italiano has been signed by a Bunesliga side, while many of the young guns in Australia, even your own Joey Champness has not. Need another look at Perth Glory Kanga.

        What they need is a Ernie Merrick like appointment.

        • January 17th 2018 @ 8:15am
          Kanga Baartz said | January 17th 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

          Punter

          True I forgot abt Italiano,, very good player

        • January 17th 2018 @ 8:23am
          Kanga Baartz said | January 17th 2018 @ 8:23am | ! Report

          Punter

          I do rate Adam taggart highly but he is always injured.
          Rhys Williams went to victory
          Brandon O’Neill is at Sydney
          Liam Reddy best days are behind him

          But who else would you take from Perth other then Italiano to Sydney f c ??

          So I’m just saying Kenny Lowe doesn’t have a great amount of quality but like I said
          merrick got the most out of Newcastle , Perth could do with a merrick.

          • January 17th 2018 @ 8:48am
            Kanga Baartz said | January 17th 2018 @ 8:48am | ! Report

            Punter x 3

            A quick google tells me

            These players have left glory during Kenny Lowe time at the club

            De Silva
            Jamie McClaren
            Jack Duncan
            Brandon O’Neill
            Ruben zadkovich
            Royston Griffiths
            Marincovich
            Scott jamieson
            Jack Clisby

            That’s almost a whole A league of talent drain . The reasons for this are not known to me , but aludes to what I said earlier, that he doesn’t have much to work with at the moment.

            • January 18th 2018 @ 1:15am
              Roger Smith said | January 18th 2018 @ 1:15am | ! Report

              Kenny Lowe chose not to sign De Silva. Jack Clisby and O’Neill never got game time under Kenny. Griffiths was useless for us.

              Oh, don’t forget what’s his name. The right back that got in the Socceroos squad.

              That was a money thing.

              The players that left did so because in a better team, they had a better chance of playing well.

          • January 17th 2018 @ 10:11am
            punter said | January 17th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

            I question the coaching, you say they don’t have the cattle.

            In Castro, Taggert (yes injury), Keogh, Italiano & even Harold (average player, but has speed & his day), they have a strong attack.
            In Nichols, you have one of the best attacking midfielders in Australia, under-performing, wonder how he would go under Merrick. Brendon Wilson shows promise in the U23s Olyroos side, in the 2 Spainards, they have La Liga experience especially Torres, comes with very good CV. Jake Brimmer was looked at as one of Australia’s bright young hopes only a couple of years ago.
            Their defence has a lot of lower Tiers English experience in Lowry, Mills & Grant, they are not exactly no hopers.

        • January 17th 2018 @ 8:40am
          LuckyEddie said | January 17th 2018 @ 8:40am | ! Report

          I wish they would give Merrick the job at the Socceroos. He is faraway the best and most successful manager in HAL history and has overseas experience.

          • January 17th 2018 @ 9:51am
            punter said | January 17th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

            Merrick has done very well as coach of Newcastle, but I would not say he is far & away the best and most successful manager in HAL history.

            Merrick won double twice 06/07 & 08/09, 4 trophies. Ernie was also Runners up in both premiership & championship in 09/10.

            Arnie won double once 16/17, plus winning premiership 11/12 & championship 12/13. 4 trophies. Arnie has also won the FA cup & runners up in premiership 3 times & losing Grand Finalist twice.

            So that is 4 trophies apiece, so not far & away most successful is Merrick.

            Both are big in the race this year to add to their collection this year, as far as Championship concern, really a 2 horse race between the 2.

            • January 17th 2018 @ 6:17pm
              LuckyEddie said | January 17th 2018 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

              I was just making a general statement that he is a very good coach. No need to research the history books.

              • January 18th 2018 @ 8:16am
                punter said | January 18th 2018 @ 8:16am | ! Report

                ‘Far & away the best & most successful coach in the A-league’ is not saying he is a good coach, which he is no doubt.

      • January 18th 2018 @ 1:01pm
        Lionheart said | January 18th 2018 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

        Kanga, you must spend a fortune on passports.

    • January 17th 2018 @ 7:39am
      Fadida said | January 17th 2018 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      Perth, like many sides this season, have had big issues with injuries. At one stage Taggart, Keogh and Castro were all out at the same time. Defensively they have also suffered, hence the recruitment of Walker etc.

      I’m no Lowe fan, his histrionics drive me mad, but over the last few seasons he’s proven to be a better coach than I first thought.

      From the Perth games I have seen this season it appears he is trying to put square pegs in round holes in order to play his best attackers. Castro lacks the legs to play wide, so ideally he’d play off a single striker. Perth tried initially to play Taggart and Keogh in a 442. Unfortunately this leaves them light in midfield, especially with Castro wide and if Nichols is behind. Nichols is underperforming.

      Last week they tried Keogh wide, with Taggart a sole striker. Keogh was unsurprisingly ineffective.

      A 4411 is probably their best bet, either Taggart or Keogh up front, Castro off the striker, Harold and Italiano wide.

      I still don’t think they’ve covered the loss of Rostyn Griffiths. The 2 spaniards in midfield don’t offer much in either attack or defence. Injuries and players leaving have decimated a once pretty sturdy defence. They have no platform to build from.

      Hopefully they’ll stick with Lowe through this flat period. I think his previous work merits some patience.

      • January 17th 2018 @ 2:05pm
        nevyn said | January 17th 2018 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

        They’ll stick with Lowe becuase they don’t understand the issues.

        Agreed Andreu and Torres have been below par but they’ve also been unfit, they arrived at the end of pre-season (2 weeks to go) neither have been fit all season, both have been injured and the whole approach from CEO to Coach/Conditioning Coach needs to be reviewed. Admittedly that’s not entirely Kenny’s fault but this has happened year after year. Even Rostyn Griffiths had some stinkers of seasons when he was unfit (a common theme at Glory), only his last season did he look at his peak.

        Also agree in a way about square pegs and round holes, but isn’t that also down to recruitment? Keogh plays best in a 4-4-2 off the shoulder of the last defender. Castro plays either as an tucked in wide player in a 4-2-3-1, While Taggart seems more at home with the freedom of being a sole striker. Harold has had his two worst seasons out wide in a 4-4-2 but a great season 3 years ago playing as an attacker where he could use his run to attack players. Don’t even ask me where Nicholls or Brimmer fit into the picture, they’ve both played as Strikers, No.10s, wide midfielders and defensive midfielders?????

        • January 17th 2018 @ 5:55pm
          Kanga Jardel said | January 17th 2018 @ 5:55pm | ! Report

          Andreu and Torres arrived unfit and with 2 weeks before end of pre season.

          Reading this comment reminds me of every import the Newcastle Jets had, prior to the current season .
          When recruiting a visa player surely all A league clubs should not be accepting unfit professionals anymore.. that situation would drive me mad as a fan of the jets in the past .

          In the case of these 2 Perth Glory imports, did Kenny Lowe and his scouts not assess this situation??

        • January 18th 2018 @ 1:19am
          Roger Smith said | January 18th 2018 @ 1:19am | ! Report

          They will stick with Kenny because there is absolutely no one else they can get or afford.

          Honestly, I fail to see how Kenny has ANY game-plan aside from a completely defensive one that leaves gaps, like this article points out, which then makes it easier for other teams to score.

          He has a standard ‘plan’ that doesn’t change during games, and more importantly, doesn’t change depending on who Perth Glory are playing.

          I honestly doubt he watches the oppositions previous games that they are coming up against, otherwise there would be some kind of order out there, and a specific order aimed at stopping and attacking the other team.

          He did start to seem like he could coach a little while back, after a terrible start, but now he is like a poker playing on tilt.

      • January 18th 2018 @ 1:04am
        Graham said | January 18th 2018 @ 1:04am | ! Report

        Fadida – well said. Looks like you actually watch the game. There’s too much histrionics from the local newspaper and the commentators. Lowe is doing well with what he has got and I see promise in the youngsters coming through – if they can keep them on A-league wages.

    • January 17th 2018 @ 8:40am
      Kanga Baartz said | January 17th 2018 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      As a neutral supporter I always try to watch glory games because there always will be goals one way of the other .

      Defensively poor , but when Castro was hot they could score for fun .
      Particularly 2 seasons ago Castro was red hot . He came to Newcastle one day and I think Perth won 6-1.

    • January 17th 2018 @ 9:44am
      Square Nostrils said | January 17th 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

      Kenny Lowe is a typical English lower league manager, full of League One or Two cliches.
      A Sage is supposedly a wise person, perhaps in regard to Kenny Lowe his name should refer to its other meaning as a herb in Stuffing for the Christmas Turkey.

      • Roar Rookie

        January 17th 2018 @ 10:19am
        Grobbelaar said | January 17th 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

        League One cliches, but League Two standard of play.

        • January 17th 2018 @ 10:30am
          Kanga Baartz said | January 17th 2018 @ 10:30am | ! Report

          😂

    • January 17th 2018 @ 9:52am
      Franko said | January 17th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

      Enough is enough with Lowe.

      They have a good squad and have done for a couple of years, results should have been better.

      Would like to know what Rudan, Mori or Vidmar could do with this squad.

    • January 17th 2018 @ 9:53am
      Chris from Shenzhen said | January 17th 2018 @ 9:53am | ! Report

      Just one point to add to the comments…

      Pinocchio’s Night Club closed in the mid 1990s

      • January 17th 2018 @ 10:06am
        Kanga Baartz said | January 17th 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        Chris from Shenzhen

        Mid 90 s in Perth is when I left , …
        obviously why Pinocchio’s closed down .

        😁

      • January 17th 2018 @ 10:12am
        punter said | January 17th 2018 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        It’s been that long since Kanga has been truly out.

        • January 17th 2018 @ 10:24am
          Kanga Baartz said | January 17th 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report

          Ha ha

          Perth has never recovered from when I left .

          Went to Perth as aspiring semi pro rugby league player , and come back to nsw as a very ordinary Aussie rulz player.

          That’s what happens when you go to Pinocchio’s the night before a game .

          Old man living in the past I know …😁

          • January 17th 2018 @ 1:41pm
            punter said | January 17th 2018 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

            Glory days, glory days, what would we do without them.

      • January 18th 2018 @ 9:14am
        mattq said | January 18th 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        it still is the 1990s in Perth isn’t it?

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