December 28, 2020 marked the beginning of the 16th A-League season and within seven days, 11 of the 12 teams had played their first game. One team, however, was left behind.
Perth Glory had to wait until January 20 for it’s season to get underway, a whopping 23 days after the official start of the season.
This delayed start saw the Glory play four games in the space of just 11 days in order to catch up to the rest of the competition, an extremely difficult task for a side that’s campaign had only just begun.
“It’s accumulative fatigue, so playing games back to back to back takes a little bit longer to recover,” Glory coach and former Socceroo Richard Garcia said.
Although Glory fans had to wait a while longer, they were immediately treated to a goal scoring feast as Perth dispatched opening day opponents Adelaide United 5-3 without star man Diego Castro in the starting XI.
Since then, the Glory have gone on to have the highest scoring start in A-League history, finding the back of the net 13 times in their first four outings, all despite barely having time to catch their breath between matches.
With an attack boasting two of the most prolific strikers in the history of the competition in Bruno Fornaroli and Andy Keogh, along with the creativity of 2015-16 Johnny Warren medallist Diego Castro, the promise of goals was always there.
Fornaroli has forced his name onto the scoresheet three times so far but youngster Carlo Armiento is right there with him, scoring three including a brace off the bench against Western United.
One man, though, tops the goal scoring chart of the entire league alongside Brisbane’s Dylan Wenzel-Halls.
Nicholas D’Agostino is that man and he had his share of critics when the side returned last season out of lockdown, a number people saying the forward was out of shape and not fit to play.
His response? Goals, and lots of them.
D’Agostino leads the league in scoring, having found the net four times in four appearances, one of those after coming on in the second half to seal the game against Melbourne City.
“His attitude towards his body and the way he’s improved has been fantastic,” Garcia said of the 22-year-old.
“He’s been able to back up games and he’s doing really well.
“He needs to continue to grow not only on the park but off the park with what he does and how he treats his body.”
Despite its free-scoring start, Perth still has room to improve as it sits in the middle of the A-League table with two wins and two losses to its name.
The defence has been an area of concern as although it has found the net freely, Perth has also conceded 11 goals, the highest in the league.
“I think with limited time we’ve done a good job but it’s frustrating when you’re not able to work on the things you want to work on,” Garcia said.
“Most of your sessions are recovery so as far as that’s concerned, it’s been a bit frustrating but I think the group have done exceptionally well.
“It just would’ve been nice to have a little bit more time to practice those things out on the park.”
Midfielder Brandon Wilson, who has featured twice for the Glory this season, believes a clean sheet is coming for very soon.
“I think it’s inevitable that it’s going to come,” he said
“I think it’s hard for them to put three games in six days and expect us to get three clean sheets.
“We’re getting a lot more structured defensively and fatigue isn’t kicking in as much now because we’re having a little bit more of a break, I think it’s definitely coming.
“I think we get four or five days break this time, so I wouldn’t say we’re fresher, I think we’re still going in fatigued, but we’ll deal with it as we deal with it and I think we’ll go in alright.”
Andy Keogh looks set to make his return to the side this week after missing the last game with a tight glute
This begs the question of Richard Garcia, how do you set up a team with so much attacking firepower?
“You just cram them all in there,” he joked.
“It’s good to be able to have options, that’s something that we’ve been light on (previously) at times.
“We want two good players at every position and that’s slowly coming which is fantastic to have.”
Another addition that Garcia and Glory fans will be excited to welcome to the squad is experienced Bundesliga defender Sebastian Langkamp.
Langkamp made 200 Bundesliga appearances spanning multiple clubs, including a lengthy youth career at giants Bayern Munich and will look to join the squad upon their return to Western Australia.
“You need experience at the back and he will definitely bring that,” Garcia said.
“We’re going to have to be patient with Sebastian when he comes in, he will have done his two weeks quarantine and we need to see where his body is at.
“At the moment we’re very happy with the guys that are there, it’s an opportunity for those guys to grow and to learn.”
With WA currently in lockdown after a positive COVID-19 test, the immediate future of the Glory following the Adelaide United game is still unknown.
The game, though, will certainly go ahead, as Perth players did not return home after their stint in Melbourne.
The Glory have been every neutral supporter’s favourite team this year and their fans will hope the high-scoring affairs continue, as long as Perth is the ones picking up the three points at the end of the 90 minutes.