Time for Glory to deliver after tumultuous week

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The Perth football community has taken a leaf out of a certain vampire movie series by splitting itself into ‘Team Jacob’ and ‘Team Edward(s)’ this week as Glory dipped into yet another trough on its never-ending rollercoaster. 


Ultimately, it was ‘Team Jacob’ that won out, as Alistair Edwards parted company with the club after less than a year and a full season in charge.

Owner Tony Sage and CEO Jason Brewer had tried to find a resolution to issues between Edwards and club captain Jacob Burns which reached boiling point after last Friday night’s 2-0 defeat to Melbourne Victory.

However, with Edwards insisting that Burns lose the captaincy and various news sources suggesting that the player would need to leave the club for Edwards to remain, there was seemingly only one option for Tony Sage.

The reasons for the split between coach and captain have come out in drips and drabs, with senior players unhappy over team selections and tactics in recent weeks, while there have also been whispers regarding bonus payments to some players despite others being forced to take a pay cut to secure their contract for this season.

Indeed, 6PR’s Sports Today show here in Perth suggests that only four of the squad, including Ryan and Cameron Edwards, supported the manager’s decisions and way of playing.

It’s important to note that this wasn’t just a simple case of Jacob Burns kicking off because he didn’t get a game against Melbourne Victory last week; this has been confirmed by a number of people at the club, including the players.

As the club captain, it was Burns’ duty to raise the concerns of his team mates with the manager, though there were probably much better ways to do it than when tempers were frayed after a defeat.

While injuries haven’t helped the cause so far this season, there have been a number of head scratching decisions that all seem to add up unfavourably against Edwards now that things are out in the open.

The decision to withdraw Ndumba Makeche, a striker, and replace him with defensive midfielder Cameron Edwards when 1-0 down last week made little sense, and it was partly responsible for Michael Thwaite’s outburst at full time.

Adrian Zahra, who was a key figure off the bench in the 4-2 win over Wellington Phoenix in the club’s last home game, was nowhere to be seen against Victory having been omitted from the match day squad.

On Monday, Sage publicly stated that both himself and Brewer were seeking explanations from Edwards for his decision to drop Zahra, as well as his continued overlooking of Isaka Cernak.

“What we have to do is find out his reasoning for not giving some of the other players a chance,” said Sage.

“Find out why he hasn’t he played (Adrian) Zahra more or why hasn’t he played (Isaka) Cernak at all this season.”

Chris Harold was another to suffer as, despite scoring an important equaliser as a substitute against Adelaide United, he was unused for the next game.

Against Brisbane Roar, at Suncorp Stadium, Edwards opted for a back three in a system that had not been played previously, and they were comfortably beaten even if the scoreline only read 1-0.

Brandon O’Neill is another player who has barely been seen since the first couple of rounds, despite a very good preseason.

The decision to leave a fit Steven McGarry on the bench against the Central Coast Mariners didn’t go down too well with supporters, while there has also been reports of unrest over Steve Pantelidis being allowed to leave for Malaysia recently.

Of course, not everybody can play, but the case for the prosecution has plenty to work with when crying “nepotism” in recent weeks.

While new signings are generally given time to find their feet at a new club, the son, or in this case the sons, of the manager are always going to be more heavily scrutinised if they don’t hit the ground running.

This isn’t to say that the Edwards boys have been bad, they haven’t, but they haven’t exactly stood out either in a team that has blown hot and cold so why should they be playing more than Harold, O’Neill or anyone else?

If anything, a change in coach might be a good thing for Ryan and Cameron as, if selected, there can be no question that they are in the team based on anything other than merit.

The club’s proposal to Alistair Edwards that he justify his every move on a weekly basis was simply ridiculous and unworkable; you either back the man you appointed or you don’t, and in that respect the manager was right to tell the board where to go.

Unfortunately the club is now at the stage where it is seeking yet another manager, having already gone through seven in less than nine A-League seasons, and all of the excitement and romanticism that came with Edwards when he took over from Ian Ferguson is gone.

The most pessimistic of onlookers would be right in suggesting that this season is close to becoming a write off, with Glory already sitting outside the six before all of this unfurled.

The optimists, however, will be hopeful that marquee man William Gallas, Shane Smeltz, and newly re-signed Sidnei Sciola can return from injury and boost a squad that has had the Edwards shackles removed, and big performances are rightfully expected.

While there has been an outpouring of emotion on the various social media platforms this week, and such a split in opinion is never healthy, Perth Glory supporters will do what they always have done and get behind the eleven that takes to pitch on Sunday.

Players, managers and other officials come and go but the club and its badge will always remain (well, unless you’re Gold Coast United).

If Glory can string together a few wins, starting against Adelaide United, it will go a long way to appeasing a supporter group that has quite simply, and understandably, had enough of the circus.

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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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