No room for error at Perth Glory

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With just over ten weeks to go until the start of the 2015/16 A-League season, Perth Glory supporters find themselves in the all too familiar position of trying to find positives after a testing six months.

The salary cap issue that resulted in the club being booted from finals at the end of the last campaign has had massive repercussions, with a number of quality players leaving for rivals.

Danny Vukovic, Scott Jamieson, Andy Keogh, Rostyn Griffiths and Jamie Maclaren would be at home in any A-League squad, and Daniel de Silva, Riley Woodcock, Jack Duncan, Youssouf Hersi, Mitch Nichols, as well as short term signings Dragan Paljic and Denis Kramar, have also departed.

No press release was ever issued regarding the position of both Paljic and Kramar but the fact that they haven’t been sighted at preseason training has allowed people to draw their own conclusions.

A total of 17 players have exited the club in just 12 months, leaving a squad of just 17 senior players (including three goalkeepers) at the time of writing.

Reinforcements are believed to be on the way, with links in the press this week to Tomi Juric and former Glory striker Nikita Rukavytsya, while Hungarian international Gyorgy Sandor is a very shrewd pick up by all accounts.

Former Western Sydney Wanderers trio Ante Covic, Jerrad Tyson, and Antony Golec have come on board, along with youngsters Alex Grant and Hagi Gligor.

Perth Glory has made front page headlines for the wrong reasons in 2015.

However, the losses far outweigh the gains on paper before you even factor in the whole gelling process that is required when you have such a high turnover of players so expectations are rightfully low.

Off the field is where Glory’s biggest battle lies though, with more and more supporters losing faith in owner Tony Sage.

Sage still has plenty of followers who feel that the club would go to the wall without his backing, but it will be very interesting to see just how close attendances come to reaching last season’s average of 9,542.

The offseason hasn’t exactly done much for improving public relations, with only a few days’ notice being given for friendlies against State League opposition while Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and the Gold Coast have all benefitted from hosting glamorous European opposition.

The club has gone some way to appeasing disgruntled fans by lifting Facebook bans from last season, some of which were ludicrous in the first place.

You reap what you sow in life and social media is now the most common platform for people to vent. While there are of course lines that shouldn’t be crossed, silencing those who have merely put forward valid opinions is not the way to manage the issue.

Glory has quite a chequered past when it comes to its social media presence, with questionable tweets sent out before being quickly deleted and passed off as an account hacking.

And who could forget the Instagram comment that referred to then Wellington Phoenix man Jeremy Brockie as a #dudstriker?

The official Glory Twitter account was “hacked” back in January.

Supporters can see through the thinly veiled apologies and excuses though, and any sign of unprofessionalism just provides another stick with which to beat the administration during the tough times.

Jason Brewer’s involvement in the salary cap issue has been well documented, and the party line continues to shoulder him with full responsibility, despite whispers to the contrary.

In his place, Glory have appointed Peter Filopoulos as the new Chief Executive Officer, a man who brings with him a wealth of experience in sport so, taken at face value, it looks like a real coup.

However, the proof will be in the pudding and Filopoulos has a lot of work to do if he is to win back the supporters who, after years of supporting their local top flight club, have had enough and walked away.

And who can blame them? Loyal fans have great pride in their club and take any sort of public embarrassment personally.

Most can tolerate a lack of success and a few rough seasons on the pitch but to be lied to and cheated out of potential success by an incompetent administration is a whole different matter.

Glory return to competitive action in a fortnight when they take on the Newcastle Jets in an FFA Cup Round of 32 tie at Magic Park.

A repeat of the win against the same opposition last season would be a good start to a campaign that simply has to be go smoothly.

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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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