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  • Writer's pictureMatt Olsen

Ruben's replacement: Six potential candidates for the Perth Glory job

On the eve of Grand Final day, A-League Men fans were greeted with important news about Perth Glory. Manager Ruben Zadkovich had resigned, and the managerial post at the club now lays dormant. So, who will fill the role?


It is no secret that Australian and local managers are having their moment in the competition. Although recently crowned championship-winning manager Nick Montgomery is Scottish, his tenure with the Central Coast Mariners as a player and manager has lasted nearly a decade.


With Glory's new owners believed to be on the horizon, they may already have someone in mind. But we would first need to know who they are before speaking to who they may favour for the job.


That said, FPF looks at six potential candidates for the vacant position.


Chris Coyne

Coyne alongside the recently departed Zadkovich, as had been the case throughout the 2022/23 season. (Perth Glory)


Let's get the ball rolling with an obvious choice; Chris Coyne. Coyne spent the 2022/23 season as Zadkovich's assistant and is a Western Australian native.


Coyne also took up Zadkovich's post to lead the Glory's reserves and youth players in the NPL system ahead of the season and has previous experience in senior management with Bayswater City in the NPL WA competition.


Coyne remains the obvious choice simply because of Glory's limited resources. Tony Sage will no longer be chairman, and rumours continue to swirl about new ownership taking the reigns ahead of the 2023/24 season.


Only a swift change in philosophy or uptake in the resources and infrastructural processes would ensure someone like Coyne is not a substantial candidate for the job.


Cris Ola

Cris Ola was appointed Coach Development Officer at Football West in March. (Football West)


Cris Ola's role as Coach Development Officer at Football West may not change, and he may not be well known to those outside WA. But he could very well be in with a shout.


Ola led Perth Glory's 2020 Asian Champions League campaign alongside Richard Garcia, as the latter had not fully obtained the required AFC badges.


He would come to the club with a similar role and background in the game to that of Kenny Lowe when he was appointed in 2013. Ola is also the High Performance Programs Coordinator at Football West. He has even taken up head coaching duties for the WA state team when they play one-off fixtures.


His similar background to Lowe continues, having also spent time coaching in a European environment. Although Lowe worked in the English non-league game, Ola's work in Romania and similar coaching and development roles can be traced back to 1996.


Alex Epakis

Epakis at training with the Glory Women earlier this season. (Perth Glory)


On similar grounds to the duo mentioned above, we could see a figure like Alex Epakis take over the men's side. Epakis is more than capable of being the right man for the job on multiple metrics and should thrive in transitioning from the club's senior women to the men's role.


His success with the Glory Women is evident. The side was expected to be a distant chance of making the finals but ended both 2021/22 and 2022/23 just outside the top four in fifth.


His overall demeanour and character reference are what the A-League Men may need without realising it. Epakis' ability to manage his players and understand what is required for a club in Perth's current predicament may be desirable and valuable across all facets of the job.


That said, the Perth Glory board should have the conversation with his name proclaimed loud and clear.

 

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Warren Moon

Moon was a likeable figure with Brisbane Roar during his time as an A-League Men manager. (Keepup)


Many in the Australian football landscape may be tempted to make the case that Warren Moon's sacking at Brisbane came when there was nothing to gain from his departure. With this argument acknowledged, he will be as hungry as ever to return to the fray and prove a vital point in a professional environment.


A finals place in 2020/21 and a unique never say die attitude embodied the Brisbane Roar under Moon, who had days where they were played off the park, which is an undeniable fact.


However, Moon's ability to stand up and rarely succumb to a lack of quality and standards, even at a club like the Roar, was always impressionable, so much so that Lions FC took him back in a heartbeat as the club's Technical Director last week.


At this point in his journey, a sudden change of direction from Queensland's NPL to the A-League Men may not be what Moon requires.


However, there are similarities between the Roar and Glory at the moment. Moon also has a history of achieving finals football with such a club whilst grinding out results when he's down, which is an important asset Perth should pay attention to.


Danny Hay

Hay's time as New Zealand manager concluded with a defeat to Costa Rica in the 2022 World Cup intercontinental playoffs. (Photosport)


The story caught the Australasian footballing fraternity by storm, as former All Whites manager Danny Hay was announced as the new head coach of NPL WA side Perth Soccer Club last week.


Whilst Hay is new to the role with Perth SC, the timing of his move to Western Australia whilst Zadkovich resigned will always raise question marks.


Hay may use the winter season to hone in on understanding Western Australian talent and more about how Glory's wider system ticks. This aspect is vital should he feel inclined to make a move.


There's also an intriguing connection with New Zealand international Oliver Sail between the sticks for Perth in 2023/24 and the possibility of enticing a fellow Kiwi into the role, no matter how unlikely the scenario seems.


Paul Pezos

Paul Pezos during his time as Head Coach of Adelaide United's youth ranks. (Adelaide United)


An outsider and one for our South Australian readers, yet the overall character and brief connections to the club Adelaide City manager Paul Pezos has, having had a brief stint at Glory as a player in 2006/07, make him worth a shout.


The most significant point of difference to the other candidates above is Pezos' ability to motivate and challenge a dressing room whilst bringing a unique style. Not to mention the ability to steer a club of Adelaide City's stature - and for that matter, an A-Leagues club with widely known issues such as Glory - into the right direction and perform at the necessary level.


Whether a strong operator such as Pezos is what Glory needs right now is up for debate. But his promotion from the lower tier to a professional level is inevitable, and his connection to the club may leave him with a chance.

 

So, with an announcement far from locked in, and the current issue of a transition of power between owner Tony Sage and a foreign consortium on the cards, the question of how Perth Glory approaches the appointment of a new manager will remain for now.


Will they stick with the safer territory, risking a similar cycle of a lack of defined success, take the punt on a newer name, or give an old dog a chance to showcase new tricks?


All will be revealed as the 2023/24 season eventually draws closer. It may signify new hope or more underwhelming days out west.


Click here to read more of FPF's Perth Glory coverage.

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