Glory, I told you so
It’s right to be excited by Ange Postecoglou’s Brisbane Roar project but Ferguson’s Glory boys, forged in steel, may have just have their moment of genius as well.
All season long, this columnist has been tracking the progress of a Perth Glory team that has shifted between brilliant and bereft and back again.
After starting the season with three wins, Glory looked to have found their mojo. Then the tide went out.
The next five games delivered a solitary point, and like the previous season, it seemed the early promise of Glory-s campaign was about to wither in the heat of another Western Australian summer.
Flash forward to this weekend, and Perth will be participating in their first ever Hyundai A-League Grand Final. That-s some sort of turnaround from the dead end they struck in November last year.
How did they do it? By staying true to themselves.
Few coaches have had to work under the guardsman-s watch like Ian Ferguson has this term. Early in the season the Glory boss was put on notice by owner Tony Sage that his position would be under review after 10 weeks.
It was hardly a vote of confidence in the Gaffer from head office, and as the points dried up and the pressure mounted, Ferguson could be forgiven for having his bag packed, ready to go, when the tap on the shoulder came.
That-s not how Ferguson operates, however.
With a conviction a product of experience and a pragmatism born of necessity, Ferguson played to his strengths, backed his men in and turned Perth-s season around.
Whilst fans sat back and admired the wizardry of Brisbane Roar and then Central Coast in full flight, Glory rolled the sleeves up and got to work.
After being pummelled by the Mariners just prior to Christmas the turnaround began with a fighting 3-3 draw just after the New Year at home at nib Stadium.
From then on Glory collected 28 points from 39 available heading into the finals, a form line that well outstrips the Mariners and is comparable with Brisbane.
Don-t let anyone tell you they-re lucky to be on the big stage on Grand Final day - the numbers don-t lie. They-ve earned it.
Ferguson takes great umbrage at any suggestion that his team are a gang of route-one, long-ball clodhoppers, hoping to pinch games with sledgehammer football.
There-s no doubt that the steel provided by the likes of Jacob Burns and Steve Pantelidis gives the Glory their blue-collar reputation.
That-s only half the story though.
In midfield, Irishman Liam Miller is a fine technician and if given time and space can work the angles that make Shane Smeltz such a nightmare to defend against.
Andrezinho provides width and pace on the left and with Steve McGarry working in behind Smeltz and Billy Mehmet providing support up front as well, Glory are far more than just a hit-and-hope football team.
It-s right to be excited by Ange Postecoglou-s Brisbane Roar project. He has set the bar high for Australian Football by demanding a higher standard in both preparation and performance. In the long run, the game will owe him a considerable debt.
This is a Grand Final though. And whilst the Roar-s artful football may resemble the dazzling intricacies of a Gustav Klimt masterpiece, it isn-t the only item on display for Sunday-s showpiece event.
Ferguson-s Glory boys, forged in iron and steel and through hard graft, may have just have their moment of genius as well.