Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson can't walk the streets of Glasgow without causing a stir.

As he puts it, half of his home town love him and the other half hate him.

That's to be expected when you've played a key role in 10 league championships with Scottish giants Rangers - a club which divides a city like few others in one of the world's fiercest sporting rivalries with Celtic.

Ferguson's 10 titles, which included Rangers' record- equalling nine in a row from 1989-97, have been beaten by only one player - Celtic's Bobby Lennox (11).

But the associated fame in Scotland came at a price.

Ferguson's privacy had been taken away in Glasgow and he needed to get out.

He and his family - wife Suzanne and three daughters - found a much-welcomed release and relative anonymity in Australia when they arrived 10 years ago after turning down offers from North America.

The move hasn't been easy. Northern Spirit, Ferguson's first Australian club in the old National Soccer League, folded and he lost more than $500,000 when his coaching contract at North Queensland Fury was abruptly cut short.

Further turmoil followed after Ferguson joined Perth Glory's coaching staff under Dave Mitchell, with a barren spell seeing Mitchell moved on before Ferguson eventually turned the team around.

It took two late goals and a highly controversial penalty in last season's grand final to deny Ferguson's underdog Glory side the title after it looked down and out halfway through the campaign.

But for all the trials and tribulations Down Under, Ferguson, 45, says the move was worth it.

"This was one of the best things that ever happened to us as a family," Ferguson said.

"You were in a goldfish bowl in Glasgow where everybody knew you. Half of them loved you, half of them hated you.

"You couldn't go anywhere without your family being abused.

"When we came to Australia, the biggest thing we noticed straight away was nobody bothered with you.

"It was great walking to the beach, going to the shops or going out for a day at the fun parks or whatever.

"It was brilliant and I think that's what really made us enjoy it here. It also made us a lot stronger as a family because I couldn't do a lot with my family (in Glasgow), because no matter where we went or what we were doing there was always somebody ready to have a pop at you."

By his own admission, there is nothing unique about Ferguson's soccer philosophy.

Brought up in the east end of Glasgow just a stone's throw from Celtic Park, Ferguson wants to see the game played in an entertaining way, with his full-backs pushing forward, his wide players coming in off the line and his strikers holding the ball up and scoring goals.

Ferguson's central defenders must be strong - in the air and physically - but not to go out to kick the opposition.

The formula worked well once Glory clicked into gear last season and has shown glimpses of potential this time around, despite cost-cutting measures forcing a break-up of the grand final team.

Marquee man Mile Sterjovski, silky Brazilian Andrezinho and the experienced Josh Mitchell and Adam Hughes were moved on.

But Ferguson is now building a team for the future around the likes of Chris Harold, Jesse Makarounas, Adrian Zahra, Ndumba Makeche and Brandon O'Neill.

Young defenders Josh Risdon and Scott Jamieson are already part of the first team, but the process is not an easy one and there is no quick fix for Glory.

Ferguson is in Perth for the long haul and says a recent restructure in the club hierarchy has set it on the right track.

"We are investing in younger players at the moment and we have a good nucleus of players here," Ferguson said.

"That's all been done within two years.

"There's new personnel that's come in and Lui Giuliani, John Boardman and Tony Sage want to make sure that everything's in place where there's no excuses and we are driving the club forward.

"The people that are here are the right people to take the club forward."

Taking the club forward means qualifying for the finals on a regular basis, challenging for the Premiers' Plate and A-League championship and, eventually, qualifying for the prestigious AFC Champions League.

"My drive is to get Perth Glory into finals football and to be consistent like a Central Coast Mariners, who are there or thereabouts every year, or like a Brisbane, who have set the standard over the last two years," Ferguson said.

"That's what the punters want - to get to grand finals and win trophies."

"No matter where we went … there was always somebody ready to have a pop at you." " * Ian Ferguson * on life in Scotland

The West Australian

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