2021/22 Perth Glory Preview

Daniel Sturridge will be must-watch in the A-League this season. Photo: ftbl.com.au

Perth Glory finished below expectations last season, but the arrival of one of the biggest names to ever be recruited for an A-League side means they'll be compulsory viewing in 2021/22.

Perth Glory finished below their expectations last season. Going into the new season the club has seen some talented players depart, but hope remains. The arrival of one of the biggest names to ever be recruited for an A-League side means that Glory will be compulsory viewing for 2021/22.

Last season’s finish:

9th (nine wins, seven draws, 10 losses)

Biggest In:

Perth’s biggest in is also the league’s, and possibly the most high-profile recruit since Alessandro Del Piero.

Daniel Sturridge is here, and not for a holiday. The ex Chelsea and Liverpool striker has the potential to lift interest in the club and the competition. If he delivers on the field he could change the fortunes of a team that finished with a neutral goal difference last season.

Sturridge is an England international, a marketer’s dream and – most importantly – an entertaining, deadly forward.

He has already made an impact off the field and increased interest in the A-League Men and he has not even arrived in Australia yet.

On the field, Sturridge is a top-quality striker. In his peak years, he formed a formidable partnership with Luis Suarez at Liverpool. His finishing, at times both delicate and bullet-like will not have deserted him and his enviable first touch should remain.

Alongside Andy Keogh and Bruno Fornaroli, he will make up one-third of a formidable buffet of striking options.  All three are mobile attackers and Sturridge can play wide or centrally.

Sturridge’s injury record has been worrying in the past few seasons and the worst-case scenario for Perth is that he doesn’t get on the pitch but the potential upside is well worth any risk.

Biggest Out

Chris Ikonomidis is a loss for Perth Glory. He is 26, a Socceroo, and approaching his peak years as a footballer.

Ikonomidis spent much of last season injured but has recovered his fitness and joined the Australia squad for their World Cup qualifiers.

He was trumpeted by Melbourne Victory as a huge recruit after leaving Glory and was a popular player among Perth fans.

Ikonomidis was one of Glory’s best players in their last successful season. In 2018/19 he scored nine goals and recorded three assists as Perth won the Premier’s Plate and lost just three games.

Midfielder Neil Kilkenny joins him on the flight to Victoria. The former Australian international has joined Western United and his experience and versatility will be missed.

Diego Castro is probably the most emotional departure from the club. The Spaniard is regarded as one of the finest players Perth Glory has ever had.

His role had changed somewhat in recent seasons as he moved into midfield.

How Glory can fill the chasm he will leave in charisma and ability will be a talking point.

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What to expect

Attention – Perth should expect attention. They have the big-name recruit but this is no guarantee of success. This is still a club that finished in the bottom half of the table and the spotlight will be on them this season.

If the history of big-name arrivals is any indication, much of the discourse will revolve around Sturridge. Is he playing? Is he starting or being used in the best way?

Sturridge is undoubtedly a star but he should not be expected to single-handedly change the club’s fortunes. Nevertheless, the heat of expectation will be on the team and coach Richard Garcia, perhaps unfairly.

The team may need to adjust their formation to accommodate the new look attack and the departure of Diego Castro. If there are any teething problems, they have the quality to overcome them.

Brad Jones will bring experience to the goalkeeping position. His form will go a long way to determining Perth’s position at the end of the season. The former Socceroo and Liverpool custodian is a significant signing for Glory and has been overshadowed somewhat by Sturridge’s arrival.

Glory may have lost too much from its midfield to contend for the title. They have a good defence, a great goalkeeper, and three outstanding strikers but Ikonomidis, Kilkenny, and Castro are significant departures despite their ages.

Glory fans should still be optimistic, or at least excited. A Fornaroli and Sturridge partnership promises to be highlights galore.

A finals appearance will be a significant improvement on last season and a good result for Garcia. However expectations should be tempered. It would be a huge jump from last season.

Despite the lack of midfield reinforcement, these are exciting times and Glory fans should be eager for kickoff.

Football clubs cannot promise trophies before the season begins. What they can promise fans is hope and Glory has given fans across the league something to look forward to.

Possible lineup

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