Season 4 Club Previews - Part 3
Dave Cooper takes a look at Perth and Queensland
Season 3 was to be the turning point for Glory, with the club now with new owners who had a fresh and positive approach. On field, it was also looking promising for Perth Glory after making the final of the Pre-Season Cup. But that was to prove a false dawn, as Glory once again proved to be disappointing, eventually finishing in 7th just ahead of Wellington Phoenix on goal difference.
Ron Smith started the season as coach, but with no wins after 11 rounds (6 draws and 5 losses), he fell on his sword as they say and his assistant David Mitchell took over. It did the trick with Glory stunning Newcastle with a 4-1 win at EnergyAustralia Stadium. But it didn-t produce a string of victories and in fact Glory finished the least numbers of wins of any team, with just 4. The teams inability to win at home, once their major weapon, again proved their undoing. Mitchell at least broke even once he took over and earned him enough points to get the job for the Season 4.
It was not going to be an easy off-season for Mitchell, especially with Billy Celeski heading back to Melbourne, captain Simon Colosimo moving to Sydney FC and Leo Bertos heading back to New Zealand to play for Wellington, almost before the last ball had been kicked in anger.
Mitchell Prentice also left for Sydney FC, while Mitchell also released Anthony Danze, David Micevski and Mate Dragicevic, who proved a flop as their major import. Probably the toughest decision was to release Stan Lazaridis, who had returned in November after serving his year ban, with Mitchell believing his time out of the game was big a gap for him to return to the level he was once capable. Finding quality replacements was not going to be easy and the recruiting was a slow process. Down the spine was once area of concern and his entire central midfield is completely new. Argentine Adrian Trinidad is an attacking midfield with some promise, while two unheralded locals in Josip Magdic and Adriano Pellegrino, will join former Brazilian international Amaral in central midfield. Up front Eugene Dadi will join Nikita Rukavytsya, Jamie Harnwell and Jason Robinson to get the goals.
Young Australian defender Hayden Doyle returned from overseas, while local boy Mark Lee finally got a full-time contract after several short-term spells. Another local boy, Scott Bulloch was the latest signing after impressing on a tour to Indonesia.
Mitchell has enough talent on his books to be competitive with Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Tando Velaphi and Rukavytsya all part of the Olympic team, Jamie Coyne is one of the best attacking right backs in the league, while Nick Rizzo has shown in glimpses he can be very dangerous in attack, but needs to be more consistent. At the back former national team defender Hayden Foxe has loads of experience, while Dino Djublic is a player of promise.
There is no doubt Perth need to stand up this season and a good start is required if they are to do well. Winning home games is a must, not only for results, but to get the crowds rolling back in, where they once packed the stands at Members Equity.
Players In - Eugene Dadi (Hapoel Acre, Israel), Josip Magdic (Floreat Athena, WA), Frank Juric (Hannover 96, Germany), Hayden Doyle (Niki Volou, Greece), Adriano Pellegrino (Metro Stars, SA), Mark Lee (from short-term contract), Adrian Trinidad (Indonesia), Alexandre da Silva Mariano [Amaral] (Gremio Barueri, Brazil), Anthony Skorich, Scott Bulloch
Players Out - Simon Colosimo (Sydney FC), Leo Bertos (Wellington Phoenix), Billy Celeski (Melbourne Victory), Stan Lazaridis (released), Mitchell Prentice (Sydney FC), Anthony Danze (released), David Micevski (released), Mate Dragicevic (released)
If the experience of Newcastle is something to go by, then Queensland Roar fans will perhaps a lot to look forward to this season. Season 3 proved a breakthrough year, making the finals for the first time and going close to a first Grand Final appearance, losing 3-2 in the Preliminary Final to the Jets.
The Jets progressed steadily up the finals ladder in the first three seasons, to win the Championship last season and the feeling is Roar could follow the same path. The Roar finished fourth, but going into the last match, they could easily have finished first, but ended up losing in Adelaide.
It certainly wasn-t heading that way at the start of the season just five points from its opening six games. Frank Farina turned to youth and it paid dividends, as the likes of Michael Zullo and Robbie Kruse added thrust and goals to the attack and the points started coming. It was shaping well for them for a tilt at the Premiers Plate, but no wins in January saw them fall to fourth.
The semi finals saw them pitted against Sydney FC and after a 0-0 in Sydney; they went back to Brisbane and did the business to win 2-0.
While the loss to Newcastle would have been disappointing, Farina knew that with the base of this squad and some quality signings, the Roar would challenge for honours. The loss of leading scorer Reinaldo though was a blow, while Brazilian Marcinho and Scotsman Simon Lynch were let go. The other big loss was that of defender Sasa Ognenovski, who was wooed to Adelaide with Asian Champions League football on offer.
Farina was backing his youth policy and signed up some of Queensland-s best young players in Tim Smits, Thomas Oar and David Dodd, while AIS graduates Luke DeVere and Isaka Cernak were also signed. But Farina needed big names and especially in attack and Dutchman Serginho van Dijk was signed up to lead the attack. His pre-season form suggested he could one of the finds of the season.
The Pre-Season Cup also saw former Rangers midfielder Charlie Miller trial and Farina believes he might finally have the playmaker he is looking for and he was signed up for two years. However probably his biggest gain, was the return of Reinaldo from his brief sojourn to Korea, which could prove the difference between a good year and a very good year.
There is no doubting Roar possess the attacking talent to be a huge threat, but its in defence that Queensland may struggle, with no experienced defender replacing Ognenovski. Former Qantas Socceroo Craig Moore will need to step up now more than ever and Farina certainly can-t afford too many injuries or suspensions in this area of the park, otherwise their title aspirations may have to wait.
Players In - Tim Smits (Rochedale Rovers - QLD), David Dodd (Palm Beach - QLD), Luke DeVere (AIS), Isaka Cernak (AIS), Thomas Oar (QAS), Serginho van Dijk (FC Emmen, Holland), Reinaldo* (Busan I'Park, Korea Republic), Charlie Miller (Lierse SK, Belgium)
Players Out - Sasa Ognenovski (Adelaide United), Reinaldo* (Busan I'Park, Korea Republic), Simon Lynch (released), Marcinho (released), Stuart McLaren (released), Matt Ham (released)
* transferred to Busan I'Park at the end of Hyundai A-League 2007/08 season and returned July 2008