It would be a fairytale for WA if the Hyundai A-League’s oldest club - celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2016 - finally wins some silverware this season.
And if last season’s form and their off-season acquisitions are any guide, this could be Perth Glory's year.
The one-time NSL powerhouse surged into the Hyundai A-League Finals Series in 2015/16 on the back of the exploits of Castro, Keogh and Co. While they ultimately bowed out in the first week, it gave a glimpse into what they can achieve.
The subsequent signings of trio Adam Taggart, Rhys Williams and and Rostyn Griffiths were powerful statements, with the club putting their faith in WA talent like never before.
And they were able to do much of their transfer business early in the pre-season, giving them a powerful, stable look heading into this season.
Nebo Marinkovic provides the ball-playing skill and superb set-piece delivery all good sides need. And with a robust, powerful defensive unit, the options at Lowe’s disposal are frightening.
And having no commitments in the FFA Cup (they were knocked out by Sydney FC in the Round of 16) or the Asian Champions League, this means they have a clear run in the league.
Glory promise to be a fascinating watch in Season 2015/16. And if the fans get behind them, those NSL glory days could be back.
The burning questions
- Will Johnny Warren Medallist Diego Castro be able to replicate his stunning 2015/16 campaign?
- How will striker Adam Taggart go on his return to the Hyundai A-League?
- Will Rhys Williams rediscover form and fitness in the west and be Glory’s missing link?
Lessons learnt from last season
- Keogh is key. When he returned to the club he was the missing ingredient towards the back end of the season. Keep him fit and firing and he's going to be absolutely vital.
Glory start with back-to-back home games against the Mariners and then Wellington. Away games against the powerhouse City and Brisbane over the ensuing fortnight will give a good indication of how strong they could be in 2016/17.
While home fans won’t have the chance to watch them at home in the Christmas/New Year period with trips to City and Wanderers scheduled, they do have the benefit of just one trip across the Tasman for the Distance Derby this season – and that’s not until March.
Three of their last four matches are also in Perth, meaning home fans will be key in getting them over the line at the business end of the season
- Plenty of options in attack with the likes of Castro, Keogh, Taggart, Harold, Garcia, Reiners and Chianese.
- Defensive depth. In Rhys Williams, Djulbic, Lowry, Grant and Aryn Williams, Glory isn’t short of central defensive power and presence.
- Lowe’s passion and nous. Glory’s squad love playing for their enthusiastic boss
- Hard to pinpoint any particular weakness. If they can keep their key men fit all season, they'll be hugely difficult to beat. Perhaps they're short of a creative midfielder if Marinkovic is out, but other than that, all looks good in Gloryland.
While there will always be a disciplined structure, there’s a lot more experience and quality this year. It means Lowe has tactical options.
It begins with what's shaping as a superb back four. New keeper Liam Reddy behind a central two of Rhys Williams and Alex Grant, Joe Mills and Josh Risdon as full backs with Lowry, Djulbic, Aryn Williams and Warren as options.
He can play a 4-3-3 using Keogh up front, partnered by the pacy Taggart and Harold with Reiners and Chianese as options, with Castro and Marinkovic as the two advanced attacking midfielders in behind with Griffiths holding.
Or a 4-4-2 with Keogh partnered by Taggart, with Castro at the tip of a diamond that includes Marinkovic and Harold/Garcia/Reiners wide with Griffiths at the base. And in Rhys Williams, Lowe has a player who can also fill in as the holding midfielder.
Jamal Reiners. Still just 18, the South African-born flyer is an exceptional talent and extremely confident. Has a great ability to beat his marker one-on-one and he’ll only develop further under the astute Lowe.
If they can be steelier in defence – which should be no problem with Griffiths and Williams on board – then another Finals Series should be well within their grasp. The challenge is then trying to deliver when it counts. If they do, a Grand Final is not out of reach for the boys in purple.