Glory for Glory, or more disappointment?
Perth Glory 2017/18 season preview
What to expect of Perth Glory? There is never an easy answer. Every season they seem to get so close, yet so far. Last season, we saw them lose out on a place in the grand final with a 3-0 loss in the preliminary final away to eventual champions Sydney FC. With Perth Glory set to kick off their 13th season in the Hyundai A-League in October, could we finally see them crowned champions and give us a return to the Glory days of old? Or will it be yet another season of bitter disappointment for the west?
After losing the grand final in 2012 on acrimonious terms and the big salary cap ordeal in early 2015, fans of the Glory have had to endure some pretty tough luck over the years. However, some new additions to the squad and some stability in the ranks may make 2017/18 their best season yet. Of course, losing young Socceroo Josh Risdon to Western Sydney is a big blow, but this seems to have been made redundant by bringing 2 ex-Glory players, Scott Neville and Mitch Nichols, back to the club. Two-time A-League champion Mitch Nichols could prove to be a huge signing. Linking up with Diego Castro and Andy Keogh could provide a devastating strike force; with Scott Neville filling the hole that will be left by Josh Risdon’s departure at right back.
Nebojsa Marinkovic was released by the club in May, however, the recent signing of Liverpool youth midfielder Jake Brimmer is an excellent coup, and the 19-year-old appears to be something of a free kick specialist. This could put a bandage over the wound left from seeing Danny De Silva head east to Central Coast Mariners, following his loan spell from Glory to Italian giants Roma. New signings aside, this is a Glory side brimming with experience. Keeping striker Andy Keogh for another year is excellent news. With 34 goals in 70 A-League appetences, he’ll be supported by Spanish Maestro Diego Castro, who himself has 26 goals in just 53 A-League appearances. Kenny Lowe retains his managerial position, which he has had since 2013 (not to mention, he has been assistant manager since 2007). Although often topic for debate amongst Glory fans, Lowe has always gotten the best out of what have, at times, been fairly mediocre players at his disposal. His attitude, determination and experience, alongside ex-Glory captain Richie Garcia taking up an assistant managers position with the club, could prove absolutely pivotal in the upcoming season. Although stability is key, a spanner in the works could be the increasingly likely departure of captain Rostyn Griffiths due to a lucrative offer to play in Uzbekistan. Although not confirmed, this could prove quite a blow to lose such a senior figure in the squad.
Glory’s away form has always been their Achilles heel. Being the world’s most isolated city, away matches are always a long flight to the east coast and even international, when Glory plays Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand. It’s a rough start for Glory, with only 3 of their first 9 matches to be played in front of a home crowd. On top of this, Glory will have to make the trek to New Zealand twice. However, the final 7 games of the season will see Glory play 5 of these at home. They will also face the 2 Melbourne clubs at home, twice each. If Glory can get through the first 9 games of the season in the top 5, one would be foolish to bet against them finishing in the top 3.
Essentially, the first 9 games of the season are huge. If Glory comes out of those 9 games near the bottom, they’re going to be playing catch up all season and once down, they may struggle to get back up. However, I believe Perth Glory have the stability and the strength to weather the storm and get through those 9 games at the right end of the table. If they do so, they’ll set themselves up for an excellent run in towards the end of the season, which could see them go one better than 2012 and lift their maiden A-League title. As said, predicting a Perth Glory season is never easy, but those first 9 games will go a long way in giving a forecast come May.