Kenny Lowe doesn’t “enjoy” coaching. But he can’t get enough of it. We go inside the mind of one of the Hyundai A-League’s most intriguing personalities.
Ahead of Perth Glory’s second home game of the Hyundai A-League season against Phoenix on Sunday, Lowe opened up to www.a-league.com.au managing editor Aidan Ormond.
Lowe, 54, a former Stoke City, Birmingham City and Hartlepool player who after being caretaker coach was appointed Perth Glory head coach ahead of the 2014/15 season, outlined his coaching mantra, his views on younger players and how he avoids players heading into “dark places” mentally.
What is your over-riding coaching philosophy and approach with your playing group?
For me it is the environment. It's purely environment. I want to ensure that when players wake up in the morning they actually want to come to work.
If I can have an environment where people are happy and enjoying themselves and enjoy the work, then we have half a chance of being successful.
My big focus is to take care of the players.
Can you give me an example?
You speak to them. Ask how they feel. How the family is. Get to know them. It’s my biggest thing.
Look, you’re not going to keep everybody happy because not everybody can play on the weekend, but as best as you can, be honest with everyone and that they understand the thought processes behind your decisions, and be open in your communication.
Then, maybe they’ve [the players] got a semblance of understanding.
If not, they’ll go to a dark place and second-guess. They may think of their own reasons [for not playing] and the connotations of that can be bad on your mindset.
Be as open with the players as possible, within reason. You can’t be overly communicative, though.
I have a saying, “More communication, less anxiety”.
Still enjoying the job?
I don't think “enjoying” is the word.
I think I have a love for it but I don't think you can really “enjoy” the job.
During the competition I don't think anyone can really enjoy it, because there are so many ups and downs.
How can I say… you don't enjoy it but you want more of it?
I just can't get my head around it [laughs]. It’s perverse.
You don’t enjoy it but you want more of it and you’re thinking, “what the…?”
I could say it’s a sub-conscious and deep-rooted love.
Maybe we’re all crazy!
The start of the season, how do you view the form and games?
I always tend to find the first three or four games there's nothing between anybody in the league.
Everyone comes in with euphoria and expectations and a new kind of vibrancy, and after a while it settles down.
The big thing with us is we've got a good playing group on paper. We've got WA lads that have come back and some boys who’ve been injured and if they can get five, six, seven games under their belt to get them back to the level they were at, then good.
But its just names on paper. We have 27 games that will decide if we’re a good side or not.
Last year Victory was tipped to be big but for whatever reasons things didn’t pan out. It’s a tough league.
Key to success this year?
In my time at the club we have never done so well away from home.
What we need to do is make sure is – and we've had a mindset over the last two seasons on this – is that the away travel is not going to affect us. Because we've had good home form and we've added some type of good away form it means we are a finals contender.
If we have any type of away form we will be a finals contender I believe.
It is a mindset thing we spoke about and if you look back on the first year and last year I think we had the least amount of losses away in my two seasons than all the others.
The away form will accentuate your home phone because you coming into those games with confidence, so when they [opposition] come to your home ground you have no fear.
We speak about away form quite a lot.
Your view on young players breaking into the starting XI? What is the mindset needed?
Last season it was Chris Harold. He was a breakout player because now he’s a starting XI player.
He’s taken his time and developed … and sometimes people look for the next 17-year-old.
But what you need to do is keep that player till he’s 19 to 22 and stay in the system and be around.
We’ve got big players, Williams, Taggart, Keogh and others, be around them, learn off them every day.
Don’t hanker after ‘how many games am I going to get this year?’
Hanker after, ‘how am I going to get better this year?’ to allow me to get games.
A lot of younger players put the horse before the cart.
Was that the case with Danny Da Silva?
I think a lot do that.
And again, it comes down to mindset. It’s process-driven not outcome- oriented.
How do I get better is a process. Not how many games I can get, which is an outcome. Know what I mean?
And if you get an opportunity, and you’ve followed a process you’re ready for the outcome.
That new stadium in Perth is looking sharp. Fancy your Glory playing there once it’s built?
Who’s to know?
It’s a 60,000 venue. We may play some games there. If you’ve got a state-of-the-art facility, you’ll want to use it if it’s superb.
Then again the onus is on us to grow the club and make the fan-base bigger.
But that only comes with success.
With that in mind, rival clubs have helped foundation clubs grow in Sydney and Melbourne. Is Perth able to have a second club? A Perth Derby at this new stadium would be special…
The proof would be in the pudding when one happened. At the moment it’s hypothetical.
Maybe if you were an hour or 45 minutes outside the city in the catchment areas north and south of the city.
If you look at the demographic of Perth it’s all south in Rockingham and Joondalup in the north. If you’re based there then maybe that catchment means you’d have your own identity. A region. An hour out of the city you’d do quite well, say in the Peel Region [75km south of the city].
If you stick one two miles away in the city, then it wouldn’t work because I don’t think the population is there.
In Perth, everyone comes into the city to work then leaves. In Perth, no one lives in the city; they all go home to houses outside the city. And the city is empty after work.