Perth Glory Rebuild 2022/23

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

April 14, 2019.

A famous day in the history of the Perth Glory Football Club. The Premiers Plate was secured for the team from Western Australia with only two games of the regular season to go, earning Glory their first piece of silverware in the A-League era.

Since then, things have gone downhill spectacularly and due to external factors such as COVID-19, injuries or a condensed fixture list in multiple seasons, the Glory haven’t had things easy.

The 2020/21 season and this current 2021/22 season have been the most difficult seasons in the club’s history.

It’s seen Glory miss out on the finals consecutively which hasn’t been seen since the very early days of the A-League, where Perth didn’t make the finals until 2010 since coming into the competition in 2005 as a founding team.

The expectation at this club is to always finish in a finals position, now while I disagree with that view, the fact is, standards have to be set high to achieve such a position.

Since last season, the competitiveness of the competition has increased dramatically.

Take the ladder after the final round of the 2020/21 season. There were just 8 points between the Central Coast Mariners (42 pts) in 3rd place to the Glory (34 pts) in 9th.
This season it’s a similar story, as there are currently only 5 points separating 3rd placed Melbourne Victory (31 pts) from the Mariners (26 points) in 8th.

So looking ahead to not just next season but the years ahead, the Glory need to review where they are and how they’ve ended up in the position they currently find themselves in.

Next Season

Looking ahead to next season, given the fact that there’s generally a high player turnover in the pre-season there are a few players whose contracts I would either not renew and/or mutually terminate. For each player, I will give a brief overview as to why I would not keep them at the club.

  • Liam Reddy
  • Darryl Lachman
  • Osama Malik
  • Adrián Sardinero
  • Nick Fitzgerald
  • Daniel Sturridge
  • Giordano Colli
  • Mitchell Oxborrow
  • Ciaran Bramwell

Liam Reddy

A solid goalkeeper during his time with Perth Glory but also during his incredible career in the A-League. However, it just isn’t feasible to have two goalkeepers on your squad who’re over 35.

Darryl Lachman

This is probably the toughest decision, because I love “Big Daz”. Arguably our most consistent player over the last few seasons. But for me, I just don’t think he’ll be staying next season. He’s a fantastic player, however I’m aware that he does hold a visa spot. Personally, I would want to move on so that we can use that spot for another player.

Osama Malik

Never really fitted in at the Glory since his move in 2019. Best to move him on.

Adrián Sardinero

God, where do I even begin? Very disappointing signing in my eyes and the fact we paid a fee (just under $220,000 per Transfermarkt) for this player was ridiculous. It’s a shame it didn’t work out, but it’s best we move on.

Nick Fitzgerald

Brought in on a short-term contract, the A-League journeyman has now added Perth to the endless list of clubs he’s played with. But, he hasn’t really performed. Time to move on.

Daniel Sturridge

The less said the better.

Giordano Colli

I may be slightly harsh, and I’ll accept that, but I really don’t see anything in Colli. I don’t really know what he offers for the team that others don’t. I would maybe consider loaning him, but even still, that’s grasping straws territory.

Mitchell Oxborrow

Never really set the world on fire with his return to Glory. Not really offered much either. Wouldn’t hurt to move him on.

Ciaran Bramwell

I will acknowledge that service hasn’t really been at a premium for the young striker, but when he’s played, he hasn’t really offered much. Since the recent emergence of Trent Ostler, I’d much rather invest time and energy into that player than Bramwell.

So with those players moved on, the Glory are going to have to bring in some quality players. As a result of Sturridge, Sardinero and Lachman being moved on, as well as Bruno Fornaroli now becoming an Australian, this now gives Perth the luxury of having four visa spots to fill.

Now before I even begin, the first thing that has to be identified, is what system should we base our identity/style of play around?

This is a very important question, because what’s been a concern from a tactical viewpoint has been the lack of consistency in terms of playing style and system. Now, for as much as Covid and player unavailability has caused disorganisation within the team, having a core philosophy would give the entire team a clear understanding of what’s expected from them.

For me, implementing the 3–4–3 system would be the way to go and I’d do this for a few reasons.

Of the 12 teams in the competition, 8 utilise a 4–4–2 or some variation of that system (mostly a 4–2–3–1). More or less, utilising a 3 at the back system against a system that deploys two strikers can make a team’s ability to keep possession much easier in the build-up phase for example, due to the natural 3v2 advantage.

Another reason I’d use the 3–4–3 with the Glory, is that we need defensive solidity yet offensive freedom. The 3–4–3 is probably one of the only systems that would allow for that, as you can attack with five players and not worry about being vulnerable in defensive transition due to a natural 3–2 rest defence structure.

A reason why I speak about defensive solidity is that despite ranking 6th in the competition for average goals conceded per game (1.4), there are still major concerns. Based on the Expected Goals conceded statistic, Perth could’ve conceded 34 goals (34.3), and this was due to the opposition creating multiple chances of high quality against the Glory.

So of the players who would be remaining at the club, here’s who would be guaranteed to start in the new system.

  • Bruno Fornaroli (ST)
  • Brandon O’Neill (CM)
  • Kosuke Ota (LWB)
  • Brad Jones (GK)

7 new players are required. Now that is a lot of players but not necessarily uncommon to see in the A-League, with Tony Popovic in our premiership winning season bringing in 9 players (all of whom, bar Tando Velaphi, greatly contributed to our success).

So a key area that needs fixing would be the back five, as there’s currently only one player occupying a role there in Kosuke Ota.

RWB, otherwise known as Right Wing-Back, is the first area I would address.

This is due to Josh Rawlins being more than likely to make a sensational move to Holland, which is fantastic for a player of his age.

What I would be looking for in this position, is for the player to possess a few qualities;

  • High endurance
  • Solid defensive abilities
  • Solid ability to contribute to offensive play

My pick would be Álvaro Lemos, who currently plays for UD Las Palmas in La Liga 2. The 29-year-old Spanish right back is a machine.

For instance, this is his heatmap from this current season:

Álvaro Lemos heatmap (source: SofaScore)

Lemos is an offensively oriented fullback, where he’s at his best when in advanced areas. When looking at how effective he’s been for Las Palmas, his distribution has been a key asset.

He averages 1.4 key passes per game, which is more than any current Perth Glory player at this moment. Big chances created is another area where Lemos thrives, as he has created 7 this season.

A ‘Big Chance Created’ is defined as providing an opportunity where the receiving player would reasonably be expected to score and manages to get a shot away. These usually occur in one-on-one scenarios or from very close range.

Defensively, he’s not too bad, as he averages 1.2 interceptions per game, makes 2.1 tackles per game, wins possession 0.3 times per game, gets dribbled past 1.0 times per game and makes 1.6 clearances per game.

The discipline would be perhaps a key weakness of his, however the fact he would be defending in a back five, means that this area can be soundly compensated.

What’s positive about potentially signing Álvaro Lemos is that his contract expires on June 30 meaning we could sign him as a Free Agent as of July 1. I’d implore the Glory to make this signing, as not only would he provide many key attributes to the side but he’d also be a good mentor for a young player like Antonee Burke-Gilroy.

Now for me, I want the three centrebacks to be Australian. This is because there are multiple centrebacks, who are Australian, that are great and very good quality, which would massively improve the Glory.

Two of the three centrebacks I would sign are both from Perth.

The first one would be Aleksandar Šušnjar who’s currently with Macarthur. Now I’ve sounded like a broken record at times saying that the Glory should be going for this player, but the thing is, he would be a great addition to the team.

Šušnjar can be described as a quick and aggressive ball-playing defender. When in possession, he’s a mostly reliable ball carrier, with a passing accuracy of 82%. The Perth-born defender is comfortable playing on the left of a back three, so at the Glory he would be advancing the ball into areas that are known to him.

Defensively, naturally his imposing figure his a key asset. But statistically, there are a few key areas where he does do well in. He averages 3.6 clearances per match, which is the most for any Macarthur player and averages 1.0 successful tackles per match, the third best for Macarthur.

Other areas where he’s decent include interceptions per match (1.6) and dribbled past per match (0.6).

Like with Lemos, Šušnjar’s contract expires on June 30. With the defender turning 27 in August, he’s now hitting his prime which will see the Glory get his best years.

The other player I’d look to bring back home is slightly ambitious however not impossible, and if it was achieved it would be a massive statement of intent from Perth Glory.

I would do absolutely anything to bring Trent Sainsbury back to Perth, just to add more experience to our backline.

A critical member of the Socceroos, Sainsbury is a very calm and composed defender who excels with driving with the ball out from the back and playing a penatrative pass to a midfielder or forward.

Progressing the ball from our backline has been an issue for the Glory this season, and signing Sainsbury would rectify that issue to a degree.

Defensively, the Socceroo is very strong. He makes 1.7 interceptions per game, gets dribbled past only 0.3 times per game, wins 60% of all his duels and makes 4.7 clearances per game.

Now it would be a real coup for the Glory to bring Trent Sainsbury home and as I alluded to before, it is possible.

His contract expires on June 30 of this year, so like with Šušnjar and Lemos, a deal for him to come to the club as a Free Agent is definitely possible.

Getting this deal over the line would be massive for the club.

So with Lemos, Šušnjar and Sainsbury on board, the Glory will need another centreback to complete the back 5.

What I’m looking for is ideally a centreback who’s strong, physically dominant and decent defensively, as they will be playing in the middle of the two centrebacks, acting as almost like a sweeper.

For me, I’d take a gamble and go for Ruon Tongyik from the Central Coast Mariners.

Now, this season hasn’t seen him feature as frequently however last season he was a beast.

He won 76% of his attempted tackles, intercepted the ball 1.7 times per game, made 2.5 clearances per game and had a 87% passing accuracy.

With his contract expiring on June 30, I’d go for him. He was selected to represent the nation during the World Cup Qualifiers in June of last year, so he is a good player when you give him consistent game time.

Now, the next area I’d like to target would be central midfield. Brandon O’Neill had a quiet season this year, and that in part was due to personal matters as well as injuries. But, he’s a super player and he’s at another level when he’s got a decent partner.

For me, I’d bring in Peter Makrillos.

The former Stoke City academy product would give the Perth midfield a different dynamic going forward.

His best position is where he operates as an 8, with the license to go forward and create. But, he’s flexible, as he can be used anywhere in midfield, as he can play deep, box-to-box, or a bit further up the pitch.

Defensively, he’d be disciplined enough to cut out passing lanes and make interceptions, whilst being aggressive enough to get stuck in and make a tackle.

Going forward, his passing range is a key attribute of his. Whether it’s a switch of play or a through ball after he’s advanced with the ball, it’s a difficult proposition when coming up against him.

Pairing Makrillos with Brandon O’Neill would give Perth balance, as Makrillos can be the more offensively oriented midfielder while O’Neill can be the more reserved and defensive midfielder.

Peter Makrillos would be available as a Free Agent from June 30 onwards.

Now for me, I’d like to use two visa spots in order to bring in top quality forwards.

This is done with the objective of getting short term success, in those forwards, and long term those players providing the knowledge and guidance for the younger players to take over their position in the future.

Pablo Valcarce is a player who I’d like to bring in to the Glory.

Currently applying his trade with Burgos CF, the right winger would provide goals, speed, assists and the ability to create play from wide areas.

This season in La Liga 2, he’s scored 9 goals (making him the top scorer for Burgos) and assisted 4 times in 31 games.

I’d also bring Valcarce to the club as he could be a great mentor for a player like Pacifique Niyongabire.

Niyongabire, who has featured throughout the season on the right, has shown plenty of promise with his speed and dribbling however he lacks the end product.

But, bringing in a player like Valcarce could help Niyongabire improve to the next level.

At the moment, the 29-year-old would be available for free from June 30 so I would highly encourage the Glory to bring him in.

The final signing I would make would be bringing in Tondela winger, Salvador Agra.

The 30-year-old, like Valcarce, has had an impressive season in Liga Portugal scoring 5 and assisting 4 times.

This season, he’s been one of Tondela’s best, as not only is he one of their top scorers but also has been a key team player for them.

Agra makes 1.3 key passes per game and has created 5 big chances for his teammates thus far this season.

But, it’s not just offensively where he’s been contributing.

Defensively, he’s been very good with defending from the front. He has won Possession in the Final 3rd 14 times this season, the most at Tondela.

So this player could be useful for a player like Adam Zimarino, who’s got great speed but isn’t as effective with his end product. Agra could possibly help Zimarino develop his craft further over the next few seasons if he comes to Perth.

Salvador Agra would be available for free from June 30.

Final Thoughts

So with all of the transfer business done, this is how I’d line the Perth Glory up for Matchday 1 of the 2022/23 Isuzu Ute A-League Men Season.

Perth Glory 2022/23 Starting Lineup

For me, that team could challenge for the Premiership and that’s due to two reasons.

First of all, the team is balanced both offensively and defensively. Balance in the starting lineup or even in the squad in general, has been missing from the Glory over the last few years.

The final reason is quality. There’s a very good level of quality in every position. Even the four players from Western Australia are great.

There are Socceroo representatives in that line up, as well as players who have done well overseas.

Now, whether this lineup is possible due to how much trouble the Glory is in financially, we’ll have to wait and see.

But the overall message to the club is clear, recruitment has to improve but more importantly results on the pitch have to be better.

Consecutively finishing outside the top 6 twice in two seasons and finishing this season in 12th position is completely unacceptable.

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