Another Glory own goal

Better times: Alistair Edwards, Tony Sage and Gareth Naven.

Perth Glory owner Tony Sage says he doesn't want the club to become a laughing stock.

In view of the latest Glory circus that has pitched at nib Stadium, it's hard to argue it hasn't already.

The dysfunctional club has lurched from one disaster to another in recent years, lacking leadership and stability at times when it has been needed most.

Since Sage took over in 2007, four coaches have been moved on and there have been even more comings and goings in the chief executive's office.

The sacking of Alistair Edwards this week and the events leading up to his departure had all the hallmarks of a club without a firm hand to guide it.

Depending on who you talk to from within the club, the bitter feud that split Glory had been simmering for somewhere between two weeks and two months before reaching a flashpoint last week.

Where were Sage and the man he put in charge, chief executive Jason Brewer, during this time?

With the football department descending into civil war, the club hierarchy should have intervened and sorted out the mess, instead of letting it fester to the point where something, or someone, had to give.

It took a semi-public airing of grievances by senior players at AAMI Park last Friday night to bring the situation to a head.

The players confronted Edwards in an ugly aftermath to the 2-0 defeat by Melbourne Victory.

Brewer was charged with leading a review of the feud and eventually tried to implement changes that were restrictive on Edwards, making his position untenable.

When Edwards opposed the changes, he was sacked.

The action - whether right, wrong or otherwise - came too late.

The club hierarchy should have sorted it out long before the AAMI Park bust-up.

The frustrating part for supporters is that things had looked so good.

There appeared a bright new future under Edwards, the former Glory striker who had brought back teammates from the club's glory days, when it was a powerhouse on the national soccer and WA sporting scenes.

Edwards had promised to recruit talented youngsters and create the perfect blend of youth and experience upon which to build success.

Among the young players that came into the club were Edwards' two sons, Cameron, 21, and Ryan, 20.

Both came relatively well credentialed, having played in Australia's national underage teams.

But there is always baggage and an adverse perception associated with a coach recruiting his sons - just ask former Glory coach Steve McMahon and his son, Steve McMahon Jr.

Somewhat predictably, it wasn't long before everything turned sour.

Senior players took umbrage to the perceived nepotism Edwards showed towards his sons and his decision to move training to an evening timeslot, among other things.

The coach's decision to leave a fit Jacob Burns on the bench against Victory last week - a reaction to a bitter personal falling out between the pair - was the final straw.

The entire saga has been a public relations nightmare for Glory at a time when the club can least afford it.

The Perth Wildcats are bucking the national basketball trend to attract record crowds to the new Perth Arena, while the successful Perth Scorchers are about to begin another Twenty20 campaign when cricket fans are in a buoyant mood following the Ashes win.

Conversely, Glory's recent crowds have been poor, failing to crack the 9000 mark for the past three home games.

When Brewer was appointed chief executive in August he said he was aiming for crowds of more than 15,000.

And when former English Premier League star William Gallas signed for Glory, there seemed a glimmer of hope.

Now, with Gallas sidelined for a fourth straight week through injury and the club in crisis, those sorts of crowds are nothing but a pipe dream.

Making matters worse was the club's disdain for its supporter base during the club's latest ordeal.

There was not one official statement from the club between the blow-up in Melbourne and Brewer's press conference to announce Edwards' sacking four days later.

Brewer later used social media to inform a small group of fans he would be available to answer questions at a city bar rather than communicating to a greater proportion of fans through official club channels and the entire sporting public via the media.

It was amateur stuff from a club that wants to be treated professionally.

While the rest of the A-League thrives, Glory is struggling.

The club's NSL golden era is nothing but a fading memory and it faces a monumental battle to win back the respect of the WA public.

On the park, the players have performed reasonably well, sitting mid-table with a squad that many expected to finish around that mark.

Nobody could accuse them of lacking heart or desire.

But after the latest debacle, the fans need more than that to restore confidence.

Brewer often refers to himself as a fan, but Glory needs a strong administrator, not a cheerleader, to stand up and steer the club back in the right direction.

This is a big test of loyalty. Some long-serving fans have already given up, and who could blame them?

How many turn up tomorrow will be an indicator of how badly this latest disaster has hurt a club that continually finds ways to inflict its own wounds.

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