Free falling: Can Perth Glory stop the rot?

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What a difference a few weeks makes. After three weeks of Hyundai A-League fixtures, Perth Glory were sitting pretty alongside Brisbane Roar at the top of table but since then they have lost three games on the spin but now trail the leaders by five points.

With two difficult road trips next up against Melbourne Victory and Roar, there is a strong possibility that Glory will have lost five on the bounce by the time they return home to face Gold Coast United on December 5.

What’s gone wrong?

The decision by coach Ian Ferguson to change a winning team ahead of the trip to Bluetongue Stadium to take on the Mariners left many scratching their heads. The bemusement was even more widespread a week later when ten of that side (Josh Risdon came in for the injured Scott Neville) lined up against Newcastle Jets, a game which also resulted in a defeat.

One of the biggest errors of judgement was to take Liam Miller from the centre of the park and put him on the wing. The Irishman has never been a winger and at this stage of his career never will be but his creativity was shifted wide to accommodate the more workman like combination of Jacob Burns and Adam Hughes.

With the aforementioned duo in centre, Glory resorted to the much maligned long ball tactics of last season. Hoofing it forward to Billy Mehmet and Shane Smeltz yielded nothing right up until the second half of Saturday night’s defeat to Sydney. After 55 minutes at nib Stadium it looked as if the penny finally dropped with Ferguson. He introduced width in Mile Sterjovski and Travis Dodd, shifting Miller to his natural position in the middle alongside Burns and Hughes.

The side immediately looked more threatening and balanced with a holder (Burns), a box to box runner (Hughes) and a ball player (Miller). Glory should have scored on a number of occasions given the amount of chances created and, while a 1-0 defeat is disappointing on paper, the second half performance drew praise from supporters in attendance.

Where next for Glory?

As mentioned, the upcoming away games against Victory and Roar will go a long way to setting the mood of fans ahead of a busy Christmas and New Year period. Three points would be fantastic and a couple of draws not disgraceful, but another two defeats will see pressure mount on a manager and a group of players of which better is justifiably expected.

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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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