Perth Glory overcame a horror start to end the Hyundai A-League season with plenty of highs and a berth in the Finals Series. We examine Glory’s campaign and look ahead to 2016/17.
Record: Played 27, Won 13, Drawn 4, Lost 10
Leading Goal Scorer: Diego Castro (13)
Best home crowd: 14,504 – Round 26 against Melbourne City
Star performer: Diego Castro
In a season with a real Spanish flavour right throughout the A-League, Glory’s special Spaniard stood out from the rest. While it took a few weeks for Castro to settle in his new surrounds after a number of years in La Liga, once he got comfortable the memorable moments flowed.
The 33-year-old was the catalyst for Glory’s mid-season surge, finishing the campaign with 13 goals, four assists and a massive highlights reel, which led to him winning the Johnny Warren Medal.
Breakout player: Chris Harold
The livewire winger might have made his A-League debut back in 2010 but it’s this season we really saw the best of Harold. Feared for his lightning speed, the 23-year-old was often criticised for his final ball options and wastefulness in front of goal.
Not anymore. In 25 appearances for the season, Harold scored a career-best seven goals and also laid on two assists for team-mates. If this is the sign of things to come, Kenny Lowe has a real star on his hands in the future.
Goal of the year: Diego Castro
Melbourne City came to Perth for the club’s final home match of the season and Castro left an indelible mark on the contest with a goal that was out of this world. Andy Keogh got free down the right wing and sent over a looping cross to the Spaniard on the edge of the box at the far post. Castro waited for the ball to drop before twisting and volleying the ball into the far bottom corner. A finish which demonstrated his sublime technique.
Highlight: Six of the best (x2)
After a lacklustre start to the season, Glory started their charge for the finals in late January on a trip to the Hunter. After going behind early on, it became the Castro, Keogh and Harold show as Lowe’s men ran rampant to prevail 6-1.
If anyone thought that was a fluke they repeated the dose less than a month later, hitting Brisbane Roar for six in one of the games of the season, winning 6-3 at nib Stadium. In a season of redemption for Glory, those two performances standout as the side showed they had swagger to their football.
Lowlight: smashed in Sydney
While their finals spot was already secured, Glory headed to Allianz Stadium in round 27 knowing a win would give them a home final the following week. Without their superstar Castro though injury, Perth dished up a rudderless display, crushed 4-0 by the struggling Sky Blues to finish fifth. History will show it was a costly defeat as Glory was bundled out a week later by Melbourne City.
What they need:
The midfield looms as the area Lowe will need to strengthen in the off-season with all players released by the club so far coming from that area of the pitch. The two Hungarians (Sandor and Vadocz) provided a great platform for the likes of Castro and Keogh to thrive last season and it’s vital Lowe covers their departures. The coach will also hope a new home means new luck for the likes of Rhys Williams and Chris Herd when it comes to injuries.
The pair are both Caltex Socceroos when fit but have been injury-plagued for the last few seasons. If that changes, Glory has two exceptional talents on their hands.
Acquisitions for next season:
Rhys Williams, Chris Herd, Adam Taggart
Losses for next season:
Gyorgy Sandor, Krisztian Vadocz, Diogo Ferreira, Hagi Gligor, Ruben Zadkovich
Outlook for 2016/17:
There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Glory’s chances next season. With the momentum garnered from their brilliant second half of last season, they have every chance to push on and be a serious contender in Season 12. Lowe has so far recruited Socceroo internationals that are not only supremely talented but hungry to get back to their best. That’s two extremely exciting ingredients. Much could depend on what happens with Spanish star Diego Castro. If Perth can hold onto the classy playmaker for another season, the glory days could return to the west next season.