Timing is Tricky
Tony Sage said that he would judge Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson over the 27 games of the A League season and this week came out and said that this position has not changed, despite the teams recent unprecedented unbeaten run of seven games.
Sage is to be applauded for sticking to his guns when many would have knee-jerked and sacked the coach after a run which saw the club win just one game in eleven. He kept his word, and by all accounts kept reassuring Ferguson that his job was safe, and that support is now paying dividends.
It makes sense that the owner and the coach will sit down after 27 games if that was what was agreed previously, but is this ultimately going to help the club going forward?
Back in the NSL days the popular Bernd Stange pressed the then major shareholder Nick Tana to know if his two-year contract was to be extended. When he was told that it would not, the fans and the media were up in arms and the likeable German, on the wave of public support was given another year.
Ferguson would be unlikely to garner such support if he tried to force the issue, as he is a very different character to the publicity-loving Stange.
However if Ferguson is to be rewarded with another year at the helm, surely he needs to be planning for next season now. He needs to decide which players he wishes to keep and those he will let go, and who he plans to bring in. If he cannot start that planning now he could find himself in an unenviable position next season with all the players he may have wanted already snapped up.
The club also needs to start talking to the players who are out of contract and giving them a clear understanding of their positions. The longer that you leave it the more players become concerned about their futures and start looking at what is available to secure income for their families.
Judging by the performances in recent weeks there are bound to be several A League coaches sniffing around the Glory squad looking to tempt a player away from the West. The longer the delay the more likely they are to be successful.
It is a real tightrope that the club has to walk at this time of year, and that is why we question the fact that players coming out of contract can talk to other clubs at the most crucial time of the season.
If all A League contracts ran until the end of June, the end of the Financial year, there would be no reason why they could not negotiate once the season was over in March, and there would be no distraction to players and coaches at the crucial end of the season. Players and coaches would also have a 2-3 month parachute in terms of finances as those who were released looked for another club.
Previous club management outside of Perth have left it until the last minute to talk to players waiting to see how the season ended, and have paid the price with a mass exodus. Let us hope that this does not happen at Perth Glory at a time when the club finally looks to be climbing back to the heights the fans expect. The club has a very difficult task of deciding when is the right time to talk.