I’ve been supporting ever since 2012, but this season has been one that I haven’t seen in a very long time.
Obviously with COVID, things were clearly going to be different in terms of recruitment and fixtures, and especially for Perth, with a late start to the season.
When it was announced that Richard Garcia would be managing the club, I was of course surprised but happy that the club chose to go in a different direction than the last three years.
When Tony Popovic was the manager, the first season was a dream come true, but the second was a complete disaster in terms of how Perth played, the performances and some of the decisions from the manager.
I remember watching Garcia’s first press conference in September to try and get an idea on how he wanted Perth Glory to play, and it was music to my ears.
He said the two magic words: attacking football. Having been exposed to dinosaur football in the 2019-20 season, it would be a breath of fresh air to see something different.
The Asian Champions League campaign was always going to be a difficult prospect, considering Perth didn’t have many players and the club were sending for the most part kids from the academy to compete with Asia’s elite. To be fair to Garcia, Perth weren’t that bad.
Clearly coming away from five games with one point from the outside isn’t good, but for the most part, the performances from many players were outstanding, given the fact that the players barely had any pre-season training and the other teams had just finished their season. Performances against Shanghai Shenhua and Ulsan Hyundai did not go unnoticed by the fans, as many were optimistic for the season ahead.
January 20 finally arrived, with the commencement of the Glory’s 2021 A-League season against Adelaide United at HBF Park. That game was sensational, as every single player played with their heart in that match, which resulted in a very comfortable 5-3 win. Young players were tearing the game apart, with Perth’s experienced heads controlling the game. The chemistry within the team was unreal.
What followed was entertaining performances match after match and despite not beating Western United and Melbourne Victory, there was a lot to like about this young Glory side. Young players were given an opportunity, and everyone gave each game a red hot go.
Effort was then rewarded with three wins in a row against Melbourne City, Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar. Glory were finally finding their rhythm. Then came the game against Central Coast on March 2. For some reason, Perth’s fortunes changed. Perth weren’t the same daring, exciting and entertaining attacking side that you would want to see every week.
The players became lethargic, slow, predictable and sloppy, which resulted in one point out of a possible 12. Two humiliating performances against Wellington and Western Sydney both resulted in 3-0 thumpings, and caused a few Glory fans to question the manager. I backed Garcia then, and I continue to back him now despite a 2-0 loss to Macarthur.
So what’s gone wrong? There’s a collection of problems. One of them is Perth’s approach on the ball. From the outside, it looks as though Perth’s possession play is slow and Perth don’t really have a plan aside from giving the ball to Diego Castro and hoping he can create everything. Sure, it does work from time to time, but he’s getting old and that strategy won’t work every week.
Another glaring problem is the defence. Perth have the second worst defence in the competition, and haven’t kept a clean sheet. A potential cause is the fact that Perth rarely have the same back line week in and week out.
Generally it is Darryl Lachman and either Jonathan Aspropotamitis or Luke Bodnar. Perth haven’t really got any consistency down there and it’s showing.
Furthermore, the amount of goals Perth have conceded from switching off and not being organised is a glaring problem. I recall one of the goals Western Sydney scored against Perth, where almost Perth’s entire team was outside the box and they still picked Perth apart with a few clever passes.
Finally, Perth’s attacking play is not the same as it was. For some reason – it could be a confidence issue – Perth’s players don’t want to take on the defender. It’s as if Perth are too scared to. It feels as though Perth would rather go backwards or side to side than take a creative attacking risk to make something happen.
Having said all that, the question is whether Perth are finals or even title contenders, or are they just a bottom-table side? Glory fans in particular will know the answer after Perth’s next five home games in a row. Those games are a great opportunity for Perth to pick up points, as Perth’s home fixtures this season have been where the club has picked up the majority of their points.
A lot can happen in football, so there are obviously reasons to get excited about the Glory, but there are also reasons to be concerned. Time will tell.