A-League: Glory poised to quench trophy drought


With Round 20 completed, Perth Glory are perched at the top of the A-League enjoying an eight-point cushion over their nearest rivals Sydney FC, with Melbourne Victory a further point behind in third place.

This elite trio are the only clubs with a realistic chance of lifting the Premier’s Plate, awarded to the top team after the 27 round home and away sequence.

Photo: A-League

The West Australian table-toppers are the hot favourites to lift their first trophy since the A-League came into being in 2005. The former National Soccer League powerhouse are the only Australian club yet to claim A-League silverware, either as Premiers or Champions (crowned after the finals series).

So the weight of history and expectation hangs heavily on the Perth club’s shoulders this season.

On Sunday they conceded a 95th minute equaliser to Western Sydney Wanderers, just as the referee was about to blow the whistle on a win that would have seen them 10 points clear.

While their more sanguine supporters pointed out that the away point made them the first side to secure finals football this season, it was a clarion call for others. The subsequent “loss” of two points gave Sydney and Victory hope, and Glory fans trepidation, that they are about to choke on what seemed an impregnable advantage.

But the choke hypothesis reckons without the steady hand on the Glory tiller – coach Tony Popovic. The Perth boss has diligently marshalled the resources available to him and modestly deflected grandiose media eulogies whilst scarcely committing a tactical or strategic error throughout the campaign.

Meanwhile the ecstatic Glory fans have hailed Popa’s “magic” as his team have inexorably and incrementally increased the distance between them and their better resourced East Coast rivals.

“Mind the Gap” memes are posted prolifically by Glory fans on social media as they taunt supporters of Sydney and Victory, the two clubs who have dominated the A-League since it’s inception, and maintain their dogged pursuit of the runaway leaders.

But will Glory choke? It’s possible.

The next three games may answer this riddle. Away to finals challengers Melbourne City and Adelaide United then hosting Victory. They’ve failed to score against City and the Reds in their last outings and Victory are sure to be pumped when they travel to Perth at the end of March. As long as they don’t lose to Victory, just four points from these three games may suffice.

Sydney and Victory are full of talent, with inspirational coaches of their own. But, due to their exploits last season, they’re both about to embark on their Asian Champions League group games. This means that while Glory play seven games during March and April, their rivals both play 11.

Steve Corica’s Sydney FC are eight pts behind but refuse to give up the chase

If Glory can get through the next three games relatively unscathed, it’s hard to see Sydney or Victory, with that schedule, mounting a sustained points-grab which will be enough to induce the gag reflex in a Perth Glory side assuaged by the soothing counsel of their unflappable leader.

If they can continue supping success, rather than gulping greedily, the Perth side will keep their airway clear, avoid the choke and may rejoice in a Gloryous achievement.


About Author

Scozzie reporting on A-League and other stuff from the Indian Ocean shores. St. Johnstone fan. Follow me on twitter @perthmcneela.

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