It has taken Perth Glory seven years to record a win on the opening day of the season, and many believe the breaking of that hoodoo is a sign that this year will be far more positive than recent seasons.
It was not just the win that gave heart to many of the club’s loyal fans, but the chances that they created in the game against an Adelaide side that many tip to challenge for the title. Shane Smeltz did not manage to convert the chances that came his way, but many overlooked the fact that he had been unwell on Friday and missed training, and no doubt was still a little below par.
The most encouraging thing, however, was the ability to change the flow of the game, by introducing fresh players from the bench, something the club has been unable to do in previous seasons due to a lack of depth.
Ian Ferguson turned to his subs and made the positive move of switching from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3, and the introduction of the impressive youngster Tommy Amphlett was just what was needed. Amphlett has shown glimpses of the talent he possesses in previous seasons, but on this occasion he came on and ran at defenders and delivered telling crosses into the box, one of which saw Billy Mehmet score the winner.
Equally encouraging was the form of the Brazilian, Andrezinho, who in pre-season had blown hot and cold. He gave Daniel Mullen a torrid time down the left, before being replaced by Watson, and it would be fair to say that the latter had far more joy keeping the Brazilian quiet. It will be interesting to see if Andrezinho gets as much space to play in future games.
Ian Ferguson and his team have started the season on the right note ensuring that elusive victory in their opening game, but the key to the season ahead is their away form.
Last season the team recorded just one win on the road — their first away trip against Melbourne Victory — after that they suffered eight defeats and secured four draws.
In season one of the Hyundai A-League, under the combined control of Steve McMahon and Alan Vest, Perth Glory only lost one game on the road recording five wins and four draws, form that carried over from their successful campaigns in the NSL.
In the following six seasons the team has played 59 games away from home and won only eight! They have suffered an amazing 40 defeats and managed only 11 draws. This equates to just 35 points out of a possible 177, well below a fifty percent success rate.
This highlights just how vital it will be this season that they pick up points on the road.
It may well be worth sitting down and talking to Alan Vest and trying to work out what the team did when he was involved to achieve a greater degree of success away from the familiar confines of ME Bank Stadium.
Even if the club chooses not to do this, Ferguson is going to have to buck this trend if the club is to have a season that matches expectations.
He has managed to overcome one hoodoo, who is to say he can’t overcome more? He has a squad that he can rotate to give players a break, and this may well be the key; using fresh players on the road. Time will undoubtedly tell.