Glory Wide of the Mark

by Ashley Morrison on Dec 21, 2011

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Despite all of the recent goings on off the pitch at Perth Glory, the place that matters to the fans, players and coaching staff is on the park.

The season started so well for Perth Glory with three wins in their opening games, but with only one more win in the next eight games one has to ask what has gone wrong.

A simplistic view is that it would appear that the pre-season plan of attack has been abandoned and the opportunities and confidence that were created during that long period are beginning to evaporate.

In pre season Liam Miller was the fulcrum for attack. Jacob Burns or Adam Hughes sat in behind him in a more defensive role and acted as ball winners.

Miller in that central role had a number of attacking outlets to exploit, he could either play a slide-rule pass through for proven goal-scorer Shane Smeltz, or his attacking partner Billy Mehmet, or he had options on either flank.

The right side looked an extremely strong offensive option, with Travis Dodd and young Tommy Amphlett. The latter was one of Glory’s most creative players in pre-season and when introduced early in the opening game earned his keep by setting up Mehmet for the winner. In addition on the right you had the overlapping runs of full backs Scott Neville and Josh Risdon.

Coach Ian Ferguson has no doubt been hampered by the short-term injury to Travis Dodd and the long term one to Scott Neville. However he had the perfect replacements in young Risdon and Amphlett. He has however shown a lack of faith in both and opted for injury replacement player, Trent McLenahan, who although improving with every game, has failed to give him the attacking options down the right that he enjoyed previously.

On the left the options were also bountiful going forward, the Brazilian Andrezinho coming in for long term injury victim, Victor Sikora, was a revelation. Mile Sterjovski a seasoned player with undoubted ability was waiting in the wings for his opportunity to play his part. At left back, Todd Howarth surprised many by adapting as if he had played there all his life, his overlapping runs and superb crosses being a highlight in the opening eleven games.

Leading the attack you have the most proven potent scorer in A-League history, and as the goals have started to dry up and Glory have started to lose games some are looking at Shane Smeltz and asking why he is not delivering.

The answer is simple, a striker can only deliver if he is given the service he requires to score goals and that service has dried up.

Andrezinho for all his fast feet and body swerves, frequently does a step over too many, before delivering a ball into the box, and Smeltz and Mehmet have to check their runs and the opportunity has gone.

Miller when bafflingly pushed wider was unable to fulfill the creative role to the greatest and most punishing effect and an attacking option was lost down that side.

The attacking flair down the right, which looked the most promising outlet has almost dried up since Scott Neville was lost to the team. Since the introduction of McLenahan it appears as if the wide players do not have the confidence to attack, as should they lose the ball the cover is not there. The tendency has been to cut infield rather than attack the byline, which has been far less successful.

This Glory side was built with attacking options on the flanks and unless they rediscover them, it would appear goals will continue to be hard to come by for both Shane Smeltz and the team as a whole.