Ferguson’s sacking makes it four from ten

Joe Gorman Columnist

By Joe Gorman, Joe Gorman is a Roar Expert

 , , ,

28 Have your say

    Former English premier league soccer player Robbie Fowler, right, pictured with the North Queensland Fury coach Ian Ferguson in March, 2009. Fowler played for the North Queensland Fury in the A-League. (AP Photo/ Michael Chambers)

    Related coverage

    With the finals fast approaching, almost half the coaches that started this A-League season have either been sacked or quit their positions. It’s a testament to how difficult the job has become in this competition.

    First to go was Ian Crook at Sydney FC. The likable Englishman said the task simply got the better of him and had become a “burden”.

    Next went Rado Vidošić at Brisbane Roar. Considering his predecessor’s unparalleled success, the position was always going to be something of a poisoned chalice.

    With Crook now technical director at Football NSW and Vidošić shifted to a similar role at Brisbane, it seems neither was really ever suited to the top job. Perhaps both gentlemen would have been wiser to remain assistants. Not every manager is best utilised as a head coach.

    Third, and perhaps most unexpected, was John Kosmina’s walkout at Adelaide. While the full story is yet to be revealed, Kosmina was clearly disturbed by what he called “the whispers in the corridors.” And now, after a terrible run of form and the loss of several players, Ian Ferguson becomes the latest victim of the A-League coaching merry-go-round.

    This season has surely been one of the most turbulent in the competition’s history. Have we ever seen four clubs lose their coach in just one season? And with Wellington Phoenix in free-fall, don’t be surprised if Ricki Herbert is the fifth to go.

    Of course, coaching is a hard task no matter the league. But as the standard of play increases, coaching an A-League side has become much more difficult in recent years.

    The fact that there are many willing coaches vying for just ten positions means it’s a buyers market for clubs. Either perform or you’re out.

    And as the competition has become more embedded and clubs have started to build their identities, the pressure to get results has intensified. Indeed, social media and the proliferation of A-League focused websites has made the job more scrutinised than ever.

    You’ve got feel for those who, for whatever reason, don’t succeed. The nature of the competition actually makes building a successful squad very difficult. Each coach is asked to perform with just 23 players on their roster, only five foreign imports and a strict salary cap.

    Which means that keeping the squad fit and injury free is basically integral to success. This season Sydney FC have been unable to settle on a backline due to the ongoing injuries of Pascal Bosschaart, Fabio and Adam Griffiths. Their dismal ‘goals against’ tally illustrates the problem.

    By contrast, the Western Sydney Wanderers have been almost untroubled by injuries, and have gotten the most out of their foreign legion. It’s a credit to their rookie coach Tony Popovic.

    And while the Mariners’ might be considered “boring”, we all know that stability is the key to success. Graham Arnold has added greater tactical awareness and style to the ‘no-frills’ foundation established by Lawrie McKinna.

    But the standout, as expected, has been Ange Postecoglou.

    After a few hiccups, he has moulded the team into a highly efficient unit, and gotten the most out of individuals like Mark Milligan, Billy Celeski and Leigh Broxham, who have all previously shown glimpses of their potential without ever really performing consistently.

    You’ve got to wonder about the Ange Postecoglou factor. At the beginning of this season, we were promised passing combination football by nearly all the A-League coaches, including notorious long-ball managers Ricki Herbert and Ian Ferguson.

    Ange has raised the bar, and many are struggling to keep up. He presence looms large over the entire competition.

    Still, Ian Ferguson can hardly feel hard done by. His side may have almost won the grand final last season, but they’ve never looked like a truly dominant side. Their late run in the finals masked some serious deficiencies.

    It’s not as if Ferguson didn’t give it a go. As Vince Rugari mentioned a few weeks ago, his squad was perhaps the best on paper in the league.

    You can’t fault his recruitment. But that’s just part of the story.

    In truth, the manager has become the arbiter of success for A-League clubs. Aside from a few absolute standouts, most players in this competition are pretty much of similar standard.

    It’s the coach who can turn them from underachiever to standout performer. Just look at the transformation of Mark Bridge and Michael Beauchamp under Popovic at Western Sydney.

    As for Perth, it’s not all bad news. With Ferguson gone, Perth Glory old-boys Alistair Edwards and Gareth Naven have been given an opportunity to turn the club’s fortunes around.

    As a one-time city councillor for Cockburn in Perth’s southern suburbs and a former striker for the Glory during the dying days of the NSL, Edwards is a logical choice in the west.

    Let’s hope he is given the time to make his own impression on the squad beyond this season. The interim manager role does nobody any favours.

    We’ve seen our fair share of marquee players in the A-League, with varying degrees of success. But considering the difficulty of the job and the closeness of the competition, is it time for an A-League club to hire a marquee coach?

    It may prove to be a more worthwhile long-term investment.

    Joe Gorman
    Joe Gorman

    Joe Gorman is a football journalist with a particular interest in sports history. After completing his thesis on football in Australia, Joe started with The Roar in October 2012. He tweets from @JoeGorman_89.

    Do you find yourself logged out of The Roar?
    We have just switched over to a secure site (https). This means you will need to log-in afresh. If you need help with recovering your password, please get in contact.

    This video is trending right now! Submit your videos for the chance to win a share of $10,000!

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (28)

    • February 12th 2013 @ 6:40am
      gawa said | February 12th 2013 @ 6:40am | ! Report

      A journey into the unknown for Brisbane on Wed night in Thailand has the potential to seal the deal for Mike Mulvey one way or another.

      • February 12th 2013 @ 9:25am
        tk said | February 12th 2013 @ 9:25am | ! Report

        Based on their form this year it will be a minor miracle if the roar win this game playing away from home three days after their poor match in sydney. whoever agreed to that schedule aneeds a kick up the date.

        • February 12th 2013 @ 12:19pm
          Ian said | February 12th 2013 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

          i’m not sure we had a choice. didnt that all stars game have some influence? i don’t know why we couldn’t play a few days ago at suncorp but the roar asked to change the date and that gave the thailand team the upper hand to say we’ll change the date but the game is in thailand as result. we got shortchanged.

        • February 12th 2013 @ 4:47pm
          Nathan of Perth said | February 12th 2013 @ 4:47pm | ! Report

          I’m not sure that’s fair. AFC set the playoff dates long ago and it was only after the season started that we learned that Brisbane was going to be in the playoff spot.

    • February 12th 2013 @ 7:26am
      steven said | February 12th 2013 @ 7:26am | ! Report

      the last two paragraphs say it all really. Clubs should spend their money on a marquee coach that will play attractive enterprising football – to a certain extent the players don’t matter.
      Look at Brisbane post-Farina with Ange. And Australia post-Farina, with Guus.
      And now Sydney FC look like they’ll go down the same incorrect route – marquee player (a true Italian thoroughbred) coached by a tried and tested donkey.
      It beggars belief!

      • February 12th 2013 @ 9:08am
        Christo the Daddyo said | February 12th 2013 @ 9:08am | ! Report

        You’re a little harsh on Farina – there’s been a definite improvement since he took the reins. If all results were zeroed at the point at which he took over, Sydney would be in fourth spot. Is he the greatest coach ever – of course not. But he is certainly up to A-League standard. The only question mark I would have over him is his ability to instill discipline in the players – there have been too many Sky Blues booked for dissent. Particularly troubling has been the fact that it’s the senior, experienced players most guilty.

        • February 12th 2013 @ 11:17am
          Minister for Information for the Democratic People's Republic of Football said | February 12th 2013 @ 11:17am | ! Report

          Spot on Christo. It was something that came to my attention as well when Frankie was in charge of the Socceroos. There was always a certain amount of aggro and stupid bookings/red cards.
          And the fact he never pulled a certain K. Muscat aside for his butcher tactics still irks me. Muscat should have been sent off twice but got lucky on both occasions, once when he almost took Christophe Dugarry’s legs off against France and once against Uruguay in Montevideo in 2003 where he committed 3 or 4 yellow-worthy fouls.
          You get the impression he likes his boys to push it to absolute limit of what’s allowed but that’s a perilous road to go down.

    • February 12th 2013 @ 9:32am
      pete4 said | February 12th 2013 @ 9:32am | ! Report

      Yes the Phoenix will move Herbert on at season’s end if results don’t change too (maybe earlier depending on the last 6 rounds) so it could be 5 from 10

    • February 12th 2013 @ 1:01pm
      Jackson said | February 12th 2013 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

      No, the amount of coach changing does not signify the competitiveness of the league.

      Rather, the ludicrous coach (and often player) merry-go-round of football, is an ugly symptom of the win-at-all-costs mentality, spurred on by rabid fans who sadly mustn’t have much else in their lives, as well as the zero loyalty approach of both clubs and players.
      The football world cup is a wonderful thing however, when blissfully once every four years we are free to enjoy the game as it should be played, free from the culture of expendability and offensively large pay-packets and teams like Man U that are essentially marketing gimmick brand names like Nike…
      You doubt the culture of expendability in football? How many coaches in AFL, rugby union and league get sacked mid year? Or indeed Gaelic football or NFL players and coaches?

      • February 12th 2013 @ 1:31pm
        bryan said | February 12th 2013 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

        It certainly happens in the AFL–The Dockers sacked Mark Harvey in mid year,& before that, Connolly.

        The Dockers & the Glory have many similarities:

        A fanatical fan base,mostly good players,good performances at the beginning of the year,folding as it goes on..

        Purple uniforms! 🙂

        Both teams seem to get trapped into a defensive mentality,which doesn’t serve them well.

        I suppose they are different codes,with different problems,but I get a feeling of “deja-vu” whenever
        I see the Glory starting to lose successive games which they should have won.

        By the way,about the “fanatical fan base”———– “Come on,Glory!!!!!!”

        “Carna Mighty Dockers!!!!!”

        • Roar Guru

          February 12th 2013 @ 5:15pm
          langou said | February 12th 2013 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

          They are the only two domestic football teams I care about.
          If Glory can get a coach as good as Ross Lyon I will be a very happy man.

      • Columnist

        February 12th 2013 @ 1:42pm
        Joe Gorman said | February 12th 2013 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

        you are right about the culture of expendability. That goes for all leagues.

    • February 12th 2013 @ 1:45pm
      Jackson said | February 12th 2013 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

      I’ve just reread my message, that was a bit tough on football, I didn’t mean to have such a go at it! Tired!
      But certainly the level of player transfers etc really is a negative for the game I feel. The fact that players move mid season is just a joke I think..

    • Roar Guru

      February 12th 2013 @ 3:36pm
      Cameron Kellett said | February 12th 2013 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

      In regards to the sacking of coaches consistently each year I believe supporters should accept it as the norm, for now. Until more teams are created I believe positions 6 – 10 will always create an uneasy feeling.

      Brisbane Roar with their core group and Vidosic really should have done better, inevitable.

      Perth glory are exactly the same!

      Adelaide and what is going on there just created an uneasy feeling for Kosmina, his departure is no concern in regards to results but club structure.

      Sydney fc, well this club is the norm itself, nothing more needed to be said, wouldn’t be surprised if Mulvey and Herbert and Farina add to it but not for this season but heading into next.

      Having more teams will settle down the coach merry go round.

    , , ,