Bound for Glory? Not just yet

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Three wins from three games might sound like something that is impossible to argue against but football is a critic’s game.

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As such, it would almost be going against the general ethos of armchair supporters not to look at the negative side to Perth Glory’s 100% start to the season.

The 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix on Sunday reads well on paper – clean sheet, defensive solidity and another goal for the big marquee signing. However, watching the second half in particular, it’s clear to see that Ian Ferguson’s side have a long way to go before they can mount a serious title challenge.

Shane Smeltz’s first half goal should have been the catalyst for his side to push on and dominate a game against a team who had travelled the furthest distance possible for a Hyundai A-League game with a squad decimated by injuries and suspensions. Glory didn’t press for even a second goal though, taking their foot off the gas completely, and were almost undone by a Ben Sigmund header which rattled the crossbar.

Ian Ferguson, in his post match press conference, acknowledged that there’s work to be done and that his side will need to play better in future.

“I’ve seen us play better and get nothing so it’s great to get the three points but it wasn’t a great performance again,” he said.

“It’s funny, I’ve come out of that dressing room and we’re bitterly disappointed but we’re grateful and delighted with the three points. It’s just the manner in which we played and we know we’ve got to do better.

“And don’t forget, this is a new team we’ve put together as well so to have nine points and throw in six or seven new players, it’s going to take a little bit of time.”

One of those new signings, Liam Miller, is a perfect example of the early stages of this Glory side. Having been stretchered off against Sydney FC with cramp in one of the final preseason games, the Irishman again succumbed to the same ailment on Sunday and was replaced late on.

The former Manchester United and Celtic man looks a class act in the middle of the park but isn’t yet up to full match fitness, something which is a short term concern but also good news given how he has looked in Glory’s three games so far.

Miller isn’t the only one still working his way into the season. Loan signing Andrezinho is yet to complete 90 minutes of A-League football, while Chris Coyne is returning from a long term injury, Adam Hughes is just getting over a serious virus that saw him hospitalised, and Billy Mehmet joined relatively late on in preseason.

However with seasoned A-League players like Smeltz, Danny Vukovic and Bas Van Den Brink around, there’s enough quality in the Glory side to compensate for those still finding their feet.

For the moment it’s all smiles, and rightly so, as Perth sit alongside Brisbane at the top of the table, but they shouldn’t get too comfortable for the minute.
  

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Neil Sherwin
Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.

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