It’s turned pear shaped in Perth

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Neil Sherwin looks at how dramatically things have changed for Perth Glory in less than 12 months.

April 22nd last year was a pretty good day. Sure, Perth Glory were on the receiving end of one of the most dubious decisions in A-League history, but the fact that they were in the Grand Final in the first place was a huge achievement.

Not only that, but a few thousand fans from Western Australia finally got the chance to experience the competition’s showpiece event in the flesh after eight seasons.

All sounds good, a real platform to build on for the future. Except it hasn’t quite gone that way with the club currently languishing second from bottom; just two points above Wellington in the race for the wooden spoon.

The news that defender Bas van den Brink has left the club to join Churchill Brothers (who?) in India is just the latest part of the team’s unravelling.

Earlier this month, striker Billy Mehmet was released to join a Thailand side, with Glory not even negotiating a fee for a player still under contract until the end of the 2014 season.

Then of course there was Jesse Makarounas’ decision to jump ship for Melbourne Victory after he became disillusioned with the opportunities given to them by Glory.

Makarounas, an underage star for Australia, played just four games in 18 months at the club despite coach Ian Ferguson regularly insisting that youth would be given a chance.

Against Brisbane Roar on Saturday youngsters Jack Clisby, Chris Harold, Storm Roux and Brandon O’Neill did see game time, but only because Ferguson’s hand was forced with the absence of usual starters through injury and suspension.

With talk doing the rounds that Shane Smeltz may be the next cab off the rank to head to China, it’s very hard to see where the next three points is coming from for a team that has won just two of its last 13 games.

Argentine Matias Cordoba has joined on a short team deal but the fact that the powers that be think a number 10 is the answer to the on field problems is worrying in itself.

There are already a number of players who can occupy the creative midfield slot effectively – Steven McGarry has probably been the Player of the Season so far, Liam Miller’s passing is up there with the best in the league, and Ryo Nagai performed very well against Brisbane.

A striker to fill the void left by Mehmet would have made much more sense, especially when Travis Dodd was forced to play the lone role up front in the Roar game with Smeltz out injured.

The fans are understandably unhappy with how the club is being and have started voting with their feet, though the Australia Day celebrations which clashed with the Roar game have given an easy out when explaining the crowd of just 4,821.

Make no mistake about it, failure to qualify for the finals this year would be an inexcusable disaster given what had been built at the back end of 2012.

Even if Glory do scrape in as the fifth or sixth placed team, the gulf is now so big between them and the top sides that they would probably go out at the first hurdle.

It’s a sad state of affairs when you think back to that great day out in April.

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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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