Perth Glory 2019/20 season preview

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Perth Glory look to back-up their best year in the club’s A-League history, with the best front three in the league and an almost entirely new defensive group behind them.

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Last season…

A-League: 1st
Finals: Grand final
FFA Cup: Round of 32

They’ll win the league because…

Glory’s front three will be a nightmare for the league’s defenders as Bruno Fornaroli slots in alongside 2015/16 Johnny Warren medallist Diego Castro and Socceroos star Chris Ikonomidis upfront.

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Fornaroli was the fastest player to score 30 A-League goals after he scored 25 and 17 goals in his first two years with Melbourne City.

A broken ankle and a falling out with coach Warren Joyce meant he has played little football in the last two years, but he will look to make a strong return and get back to his goalscoring ways alongside Castro and Ikonomidis to win some silverware.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

Perth’s depth will be tested as the pre-season is lengthened with a second friendly at Optus Stadium combined with the team’s first-ever AFC Champions League campaign. If they can show their squad’s depth there will still be the obstacle they face each year, their geographical isolation.

Glory travel further than any other A-League sides during the regular season, and the added Asian away games could stretch the squad.

If injuries present Nick D’Agostino and Chris Harold are only real options to step into the front three, with Jake Brimmer and Osama Malik as midfield relief.

The squad’s five new defenders, Dane Ingham, Gregory Wuthrich, Jacob Tratt, Soo-Beom Kim and James Meredith, has also raised some concerns on their ability to provide a unified defence in such a short time.

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Talk around the water cooler… look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information.

Tony Popovic has coached in four of the last six A-League grand finals, but is yet to win one. Similarly, Glory have played in two grand finals and are yet to win one.

The off-season brought…

A mass exodus of Glory defenders meant reinforcements were required, and after having great success with some former Socceroos full-backs last year, Popovic has recruited the services of another in Meredith.

Ingham and Kim are also likely to take up fullback roles while former Swiss U/21 player Wuthrich and Tratt will join Alex Grant at centre-back.

Fornaroli is somewhat of an unknown commodity given his extended break but a 15-goal season alongside Ikonomidis and Castro would go a long way to another finals appearance.

D’Agostino will play as Fornaroli’s back-up and Malik has signed on and will do a job in midfield throughout the season.

The club did lose all-time fan favourites Shane Lowry and Andy Keogh, and Jacob Italiano has moved on to fulfil his pre-arranged move to Borussia Monchengladbach.

Key player…

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The Glory will only have a limited amount of time to enjoy the talents of Ikonomidis before he inevitably has another go in Europe, and they’re far more likely to win a championship with him on the books.

The New South Wales born winger scored nine goals and notched up five assists during the last campaign.

The style adopted under Popovic last year with the five men across the back make the wingers an important part of the system, and with Castro on the opposite side, the glory have positioned two of their very best in their most important spots.

One to watch…

The career of Meredith peaked towards the end of his time at Bradford City. The left-back has played twice for the national team, and after 13 years of professional football in the UK, he plays on home soil for the first time.

Meredith will fit right into Popovic’s playing formation that encourages fullback pushing on by making wing-backs a feature, and a season under Popovic should benefit both parties.

INS: Nick D’Agostino (Perth Glory), Gregory Wuthrich (Grasshopper Club Zürich), Dane Ingham (Brisbane Roar), Jacob Tratt (Sydney FC), Soo-Beom Kim (Jeju United), Osama Malik (Al-Batin FC), Bruno Fornaroli (Melbourne City), James Meredith (Millwall FC).

OUTS: Fabio Ferreira (Adelaide City), Nick Feely (Pascoe Vale), Andy Keogh (Al Qadisiyah), Scott Neville (Brisbane Roar), Daniel Stynes (Bentleigh), Shane Lowry (Al Ahli), Jason Davidson (Ulsan), Jacob Italiano (Borussia Monchengladbach II).

Full squad list

Goalkeepers: Liam Reddy, Tando Velaphi.

Defenders: Gregory Wuthrich, Matthew Spiranovic, Alex Grant, Tomislav Mrcela, Dino Djulbic, James Meredith, Ivan Franjic, Dane Ingham, Jacob Tratt, Soo-Beom Kim.

Midfielders: Osama Malik, Neil Kilkenny, Juande, Brandon Wilson, Jake Brimmer.

Forwards: Gabriel Popovic, Chris Ikonomidis, Diego Castro, Joel Chianese, Chris Harold, Bruno Fornaroli, Nicholas D’Agostino.

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