Tony's Sage Advice

by Ashley Morrison on Oct 05, 2011

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“We didn’t see the best of Fergie last year and you’ve got to give him a chance,” was a quote from Perth Glory owner and Chairman Tony Sage in the weekend’s West Australian newspaper. More importantly he went on to say, “I think he’s going to do well. If he doesn’t and things go pear-shaped I’ll have to have a look at it then but my thought right now is that he’s put the squad together; so give him 27 games.”

One of Perth Glory’s biggest failings since the start of the Hyundai A-League is their instability in terms of the coaching staff. This has not been helped by Tony Sage’s only offering a one-year tenure with a longer option based on making the finals.

Last season unraveled dramatically after the Chairman told the then coach Dave Mitchell that if he lost two more games he could find himself unemployed. Mitchell asked the owner if the position he had been offered as Director of Football at the end of the previous season, and which he had knocked back, was still available; when advised that it was he not surprisingly opted for the longer term security that this position offered, and the club announced he would be there until the end of the 2011/12 season; a position that changed following the Hatt Review.

The A-League is such a short season, only 27 games. Is there really anything to be gained by changing coach during the season? Gary van Egmond’s appointment at the Newcastle Jets is a rare occasion where it has paid dividends. He took over in round 7 with the Jets winless and steered them to the finals.

Perth Glory were sitting second when Mitchell stepped down and ended up second last on the ladder, recording only two wins in 21 games.

In season one, when the abrasive Steve McMahon and then owner Nick Tana decided to part ways, the team looked like they would make the final four but under replacement Alan Vest could only manage fifth.

There are many fans who do not like Ian Ferguson’s football style or his manner, and to be honest that has little relevance as long as the team plays well, entertains and wins. The key thing is that the Chairman does not listen to the moaning of a few as he has in the past and stands by his coach and backs him until the end of the season and judges him on the end result. Judging by his comments above he appears to have learned that lesson.

What is a worry is that his CEO Paul Kelly stated on local radio show “Not the Footy Show” if Ferguson does not perform he may well find himself out of a job after seven games.

Perth Glory’s administration needs to have a unified position on the coach and how long he has to prove his mettle. A change mid season will see more of the same, with the replacement man likely blaming results on a squad he did not assemble, and a complete overhaul in the next season.

Yes, it takes time to for a side to gel, and yes the Hyundai A-League is a very short season, but success does not happen overnight. As long as the signs are there that the coach is making headway — and the team is beginning to play a style of football that is competitive — then he should be given the time to mould that side into one that can challenge for honours.

Perth Glory needs to have patience and a long-term plan, only then will they achieve the success their fans and the public crave.

Ian Ferguson has the players this season, he appears to have the support of the owner, it is now up to him to make the players fulfill their potential on the park.