Club Preview - Perth Glory
Is this the year that some Glory might finally come Perth’s way?
Is this the year that some Glory might finally come Perth-s way? They have undergone a new look under the vision of owner Tony Sage, with the hope this will bring back the ‘Glory Days- to one of only two clubs that was around in the old National League. And if their off-season recruitment drive is anything to go by, then perhaps Perth Glory fans have a lot to look forward to in this new era of the Hyundai A-League. Head Coach David Mitchell was given a mandate to get Glory a squad capable of playing finals football this season and on paper at least that looks a mere formality.
Mitchell, remarkably, has managed to attract not just one Qantas Socceroo player, but three to return home from overseas and sign for Glory. Two of those players marquee Mile Sterjovski and Chris Coyne have been fairly prominent with the national team over the past year, while the third Jacob Burns is just on the fringes and had game time here and there under Pim Verbeek. All three are likely to hold down key positions down the spine for Glory this season and for Chris in particular, it fulfills a career ambition to play alongside his brother Jamie at the professional level of the game. Added to these three comes the highly respected Andy Todd, who has played at the highest level of the English game for many years and was a team mate of Sterjovski-s at Derby County, while Serbian striker Branko Jelic has been a consistent scorer at all his clubs in Serbia, China and Germany, where he last played for Energie Cottbus in the Bundesliga. He has big shoes to fill, replacing Nikita Rukavytsya, who moved to Holland last January. His partnership with Glory favourite Eugene Dadi will be one to watch, if they can connect as a pair. Another player to return home and to the club from overseas, is 20 year-old Western Australian born and bred goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski after he spent the past season in Macedonia with FK Pobeda. Not afraid to give young talent a go either, Mitchell has promoted a host of players from the Youth League team to first grade contracts, including outstanding prospect Scott Neville, Brent Griffiths, Howard Fondyke, Andrija Jukic and Anthony Skorich.
Of the few remaining players Adriano Pellegrino had a stellar season in 2008/09, while Jamie Coyne, Jamie Harnwell, Naum Sekulovski, Wayne Srhoj, Jimmy Downey are all seasoned campaigners at this level and provide stability to the squad. Harnwell-s enforced absence after suffering a pre-season injury is a blow, but unlike other season-s it doesn-t look like it will affect this squad as much as previously when the big defender had been absent. Dutchman Victor Sikora arrived in the latter stages of last season and looks a handy player and a full pre-season will no doubt do him good. Dadi became a cult hero last season and his goals will once again be needed if Glory is to be a force this season.
On the field during the pre-season, Mitchell has had to contend with a host of niggling injuries to players, plus not being able to have his full squad together at all. Glory was also very active in getting top line matches as warn up games, playing touring English Premier League clubs Fulham FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers as well as Adelaide United, North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United. Of these they only beat Fury, but Mitchell isn-t too worried at the moment and knows that pre-season results mean very little once the competition starts.
As Burns, who has been appointed captain, said at the Season Launch, we have a team capable enough on paper, but it-s now up to them to show the rest of Australia they are worthy of a first finals appearance. One gets the impression nothing will be left to chance in achieving this milestone.
Current Squad: Scott BULLOCH, Jacob BURNS, Chris COYNE, Jamie COYNE, Eugene DADI, Jimmy DOWNEY, Howard FONDYKE, Brent GRIFFITHS, Jamie HARNWELL, Branko JELIC, Andrija JUKIC, Scott NEVILLE, Adriano PELLEGRINO, Naum SEKULOVSKI, Victor SIKORA, Anthony SKORICH, Wayne SRHOJ, Mile STERJOVSKI, Andrew TODD, Tando VELAPHI (gk) and Aleks VRTESKI (gk).
Re-signed: Eugene Dadi (1 year), Adriano Pellegrino (2 years), Naum Sekulovski (2 years), Victor Sikora (1 year), Scott Bulloch (1 year), Tando Velaphi (2 years), Wayne Srhoj (1 year).
In: Jacob Burns (FC Unirea Urziceni, Romania - 3 years), Chris Coyne (Colchester United, England - 3 years), Howard Fondyke (Perth Glory NYL - 2 years), Brent Griffiths (Perth Glory NYL - 2 years), Branko Jelic (Energie Cottbus, Germany - 3 years), Andrija Jukic (Perth Glory NYL - 2 years), Scott Neville (Perth Glory NYL - 3 years), Anthony Skorich (Perth Glory NYL - 2 years) , Mile Sterjovski (Derby County, England - ), Andy Todd (Derby County, England - 1 year), Aleks Vrteski (FK Pobeda - 2 years).
Out: Jason Petkovic (retired), Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Newcastle Jets), David Tarka (released), Dino Djulbic (Rot Weiss Ahlen, Germany), Nick Rizzo (released), James Robinson (North Queensland Fury), Adrian Trinidad (released), Amaral (released), Josip Magdic (released), Nikita Rukavytsya (FC Twente, Netherlands), Hayden Doyle (Perth Glory NYL), Hayden Foxe (released), Mark Lee (released)