Perth Glory 2012/13 Season Preview

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The Glory haven’t won anything since 2004 and they’ll feel hard done by after last year’s dramatic Grand Final loss. Should Dean Heffernan appear on The Football Sack podcast again expect him to score the next week as he did after his last appearance.

Last season:
A-League: 3rd
Finals: Grand Final runner up

They’ll win the league because…
…their starting eleven is as good as any other in the A-League. Last season’s run to the competition’s showpiece game was unexpected following a horrendous start but the character in the squad was evident after Christmas, culminating in a Grand Final defeat by the narrowest of margins.

The spine of the team remains intact from last year, with Danny Vukovic, Bas van den Brink, Liam Miller, skipper Jacob Burns and Shane Smeltz all contracted until at least the end of the season, and new signings Michael Thwaite, Scott Jamieson and Adrian Zahra will all be pushing for first team places.

Travis Dodd, Steven McGarry, Steve Pantelidis and Dean Heffernan bring plenty of experience to the table and there are a number of exciting youngsters in the squad, not least Australian underage international Jesse Makarounas.

The Grand Final defeat to Brisbane Roar hurt everybody associated with the club and you can be sure that they will be determined to claim revenge when the two sides meet at Patersons Stadium on October 7.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…
…injuries could hurt them, both literally and figuratively. If Glory’s key players manage to stay fit though then they have a good chance to go deep in the finals once again, however any sort of injury crisis could derail the campaign. With Chairman Tony Sage tightening the purse strings at the club, Ian Ferguson knows he will have to turn to the youngsters to get the job done should anything happen to his starters.

Talk around the watercooler… Look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information.
Nick Ward and Michael Thwaite are reunited having played together at Melbourne Victory. In 2009, Ward was a key member of the Victory side that defeated Adelaide United 1-0 to claim the A-League Championship. In the Adelaide side that day were Scott Jamieson and Travis Dodd, who was the team captain.

The offseason brought…
…new faces, as it usually does, and Glory got most of their business done early. Out went Scott Neville, Josh Mitchell and Andrezinho, while Scott Jamieson, Adrian Zahra, Chris Harold and Socceroos international Michael Thwaite all signed on. Youth team players Brandon O’Neill and Nbumba Makeche were rewarded with senior contracts, with the former now established as a good option in the middle of the park. Japanese attacker Ryo Nagai is currently on trial and hopes to secure a loan deal with the club.

Key player…
Shane Smeltz – The Kiwi striker was superb towards the end of the last campaign, and has been able to keep up his fitness during the offseason by playing for New Zealand in World Cup Qualifiers and the Olympic Games. Arguably the best striker in the league, Smeltz will lead the line for Glory as either a loan front man or alongside the likes of Billy Mehmet if Ian Ferguson opts for a 4-4-2 formation at any stage. As always, he’s worth a punt for the Golden Boot award.

One to watch…
Adrian Zahra – The 22 year old winger has finally recovered from the serious knee injury sustained back in the 2010 Melbourne Derby when he was chopped down by Kevin Muscat. A move out west is the perfect way to get a fresh start and Zahra has looked good in preseason, finding the net on a couple of occasions, and he adds plenty of pace to the team’s attack.

Full squad list…
1. Danny VUKOVIC, 3. Sebastien VAN DEN BRINK, 4. Billy MEHMET, 5. Steve PANTELIDIS, 6. Nick WARD, 7. Jacob BURNS, 8. Dean HEFFERNAN, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Liam MILLER, 11. Adrian ZAHRA, 12. Ryo NAGAI, 13. Travis DODD, 14. Steven MCGARRY, 15. Brandon O’NEILL, 16. Evan BERGER, 17. Chris HAROLD, 18. Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 19. Joshua RISDON, 20. Neil YOUNG, 21. Scott JAMIESON, 22. Ndumba MAKECHE, 23. Michael THWAITE.

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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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