There is no doubt Ian Ferguson has assembled the most balanced squad seen for a long time at Perth Glory, and despite some ageing players amongst his squad there are some positive signs to be seen.
The signing of Liam Miller could well be an inspired one; then again it could also be one that causes the biggest headache.
Irish born Miller was signed by Celtic and tipped to be a star of the future, and after injury and loan spell in Denmark he returned to Celtic Park where he broke into the first team. He then angered hoops fans by opting to leave ‘on a Bosman,’ – for no fee – to join Manchester United.
During his time at Old Trafford he was again loaned out, this time to Leeds United. He only made 22 appearances at Manchester United and eleven of these were as a substitute. His total of eleven starts saw three in the Premier League, three in the UEFA Champions League, two in the FA Cup and three in the League Cup, and he was substituted in six of those appearances. The most telling thing about his time at Old Trafford was that Sir Alex Ferguson left him on the bench during a pre-season trip to South Africa despite numerous first team players being absent.
As often happens though, Roy Keane on leaving United and taking on the manager’s role at Sunderland went back to his former club and picked up Miller, recognising the talent and wanting to nurture it at his new club.
As promising as this looked it all ended in tears, Keane placed him on the transfer list in February 2008 due to a 'lack of discipline' and 'poor timekeeping.'
Five months at QPR and then after a short spell out of league football he returned to Scotland where he finally seemed to be fulfilling his potential at Hibernian, but as the club’s form dived so too did Miller’s.
That was when Ian Ferguson stepped in and offered him a lifeline in Australia with a two-year deal at Perth Glory. On pre-season form, he looks like he could well be the signing the Glory have been waiting for since the start of the A-League; a creative midfielder with great vision and a deft touch.
Miller has combined well with another new recruit in the middle of the park, Adam Hughes, and there is no doubt that these two could be the foundation on which Perth Glory’s season is built. Hughes does all the hard work lying deep and carrying the ball out of defence and Miller is the General dictating play.
Pre-season games never give you a true indication of what lies ahead once the season starts, but, encouragingly, the Perth Glory have brushed aside most of the State League sides with ease, as they should. Their real test will come in the next week when they travel over East and face the Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC.
Ian Ferguson however may hold a few cards close to his chest in these games and use Miller and Hughes sparingly.
Another plus to the arrival of Miller is the influence he can have on the younger players at the club. Jesse Makarounas, signed from the AIS and a local boy, tends to play in the hole behind two strikers, but one cannot help but believe training alongside the undoubted talent of Miller, he is bound to benefit and learn a great deal.
Miller may have underachieved, he may even have signed for the wrong clubs, but the feeling is he could well be Perth Glory’s white knight, now it’s up to him to perform.