AFW caught up with Perth captain Jamie Coyne before the Wellington game
Remaining positive about a poor start to a season can be tough, but Perth Glory captain JAMIE COYNE says the team has the strength to keep going
THE first half of the Hyundai A-League season 2008/09 hasn-t been good to Perth Glory. After the optimism that flowed through the club in pre-season, at the halfway point of the season Glory are bottom of the table with just two wins to their name.
Credit should be given then, to the club hierarchy for being willing to make changes. Coach Dave Mitchell has been the subject of intense criticism throughout the season, with rumours of player unrest circulating in the media. But rather than simply believing the results would turn around, Mitchell took his team aside and set about confronting the issues holding Perth back.
Since, Perth have made changes on-field as they look to make good on their early season hopes. Players have returned from injury and Mitchell has taken the initiative to change his tactics and challenge his players to respond.
For Glory captain Jamie Coyne, who has moved from rightback to centrehalf and now finds himself playing as a defensive midfielder, the results are obvious.
“The last couple of weeks we-ve looked a more balanced team; players seem to be playing a lot better,” he says. “In regard to myself moving into the midfield, it-s something we talked about in pre-season, but it didn-t really work out because we had a couple of injuries. I got shuffled around, and the coach wanted someone who could put their foot on the ball and get stuck into a few people and that-s what I-ve been able to do.”
The change couldn-t come soon enough for Glory. There was plenty of sniping about the team meetings, but for Coyne, they were simply a chance for the players to take stock and clear the air.
“The media were pumping them up as crisis meetings, an opportunity to be open and honest with each other and try and sort out things that were on people-s minds. It was open; people had a good talk - we weren-t slagging each other off we were just trying to be positive.
“And it worked - we had a very positive attitude toward training, the coaches and the game. There was talk of people not being behind the coach, which wasn-t true.”
The change in Mitchell-s side was instantly apparent in their 2-1 home win over Sydney FC, with the likes of Amaral, Nikita Rukavytsya and Jamie Harnwell thriving as a result of the more attacking mindset. Coyne says based on Perth-s home record, they need to attack visitors when they make the trip to Western Australia.
“When we play away, you-re more cautious; anything you get on the road is a bonus and most of the teams have been up and down with form, so we-re focusing on being consistent and winning games at home.”
But the glow of that win over Sdyenywas dulled against Adelaide United last week. Both sides started the game sluggishly and Perth were unable to take advantage of the home side-s travels. They came out better in the second half and looked set to take a point, until that penalty decision ruined the plan.
Coyne admits the team were deflated but believes there are still positives to draw from the game.
“We thought we were good for at least a draw. The goal was controversial but you can-t change that and we feel the last two games have been positive. We just had to say Adelaide are a good team, they-re top of the league and we were away from home and for 60 minutes we were in control.
It-s still hard to shake that this was points dropped for Perth. But Coyne says thinking Adelaide were an easy mark after their trip to Uzbekistan is misguided. “When Nikita scored I thought we were on top of the game - then they made a couple of changes and brought on a couple of players that changed the game. They took it up another level; I don-t think they looked fatigued at all. They-ve obviously prepared very well.
“We went out with the intention (of taking the game to Adelaide), both teams started slow. We talked about it after and said perhaps we were still affected by the game the week before when we played in hot conditions.”
Whatever the reasons, it-s not outlandish to suggest it was Glory-s lack of quality in depth that cost the game at Hindmarsh. Reports over the weekend indicated the club-s owners are planning to invest more money to improve the playing roster, but nothing concrete has been announced. Understandably the captain is reluctant to point to specific areas of weakness, but says more money would only be a good thing.
“If you look at the other teams coming into the leagues, they want to be top of the table straight away. Whether it-s players or facilities, if they want to put more money into things it-s only a positive thing that can help the club.”
Given their success in the old NSL, Perth obviously carry a certain weight of history with them and any Australian football fans would be happy to see Glory offering more competition as the A-League expands. Without better financial support, the club is in danger of falling behind, especially in light of the big money contracts being thrown around by new franchises.
But like any good captain Coyne is more concerned with getting the points on the weekend. And the skipper remains optimistic the season isn-t over yet for Perth Glory.
“[Wellington] have had a run of games where they-ve got some results. But if we can take points off them it-ll make a big difference to us being able to get into the four.”