Lazaridis backs Perth to 'do a Leicester City' and achieve A-League Glory

Former Australia and Perth Glory star Stan Lazaridis has tipped his former club to "do a Leicester City” and take out the A-League title – on the proviso they finish in the top four and clinch a home final.

Stan Lazaridis

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While admitting he had written Glory off before the club embarked on their staggering run of 10 wins in 11 games, the 60-cap Lazaridis, who goes to every Perth home game, can't see anybody stopping them, if the planets align.

Transformed by the January transfer window signings of Andy Keogh (with his record breaking eight goals in eight games), Hungarian midfielder Krisztián Vadócz and defender Shane Lowry, Lazaridis is hoping that Glory beat out-of-contention Sydney FC on Sunday.

Perth will also need Adelaide United to do likewise against Melbourne City and/or Wellington Phoenix to upset Western Sydney Wanderers in this weekend’s final round of the regular season.

If the other teams co-operate, then a top-four spot will be theirs, meaning that a home final win would leave Perth just two games away for A-League utopia.

Glory could conceivably entertain either Western Sydney Wanderers, Melbourne City – the team they beat 3-2 last weekend in front of 14,500 – or Melbourne Victory in an elimination final at nib Stadium.

“Teams are now afraid of them, and Glory don't believe they are ever going to lose," Lazaridis said.

"They are doing what Leicester are doing over in the Premier League, in the sense that nobody gave them any chance at all this season.

“If they make the four – I am tipping them to win it. You can't fluke ten wins out of 11 in any league – and if they end up in the four, they will go on to win the title.

“If they don't, it will be hard to back up travelling each week and win it from that position. I think Kenny Lowe knows that and realises he has to push for that home final.

“They have a good balance about them, particularly the spine of the team is very strong, and in (Spanish gem) Castro they have one of the best players in the league, if not the best.

“Keogh has been immense and Vadócz has come in as a holding player like a big Dolph Lundgren-type beast and is dong a great job.

“They also have pace in Chris Harold and Nebojsa Marinkovic, and Josh Risdon has been outstanding, and probably won’t be in Australia next year (despite re-signing with the club).

"Goalkeeper Ante Covic has also been a great signing while Shane Lowry and Alex Grant have formed an unbelievable partnership at centre-back.

"Right now, Dino Djulbic can't get in ahead of those two and he’s a very good player, so that says a lot.”

Marooned at the bottom of the ladder after nine rounds, as they sought to rebuild from last season’s salary cap scandal, Glory’s rise has been little short of miraculous.

Lazaridis puts it down to transfer window shopping spree.

“Without those January signings, they would certainly not be in the position they are now,” he said.

“They would have stayed with the original team and at that time (ditched Dutch flop) Guyon Fernandez was not doing the business for them up front.

“He probably wouldn’t have scored if he’d been a given a 100 shots, no disrespect.

“But they made three great signings in Shane Lowry, Andy Keogh, Krisztián Vadócz and then also got Josh Risdon back from injury and put Castro in behind (Keogh).

“All of sudden they got a win and it’s just gone on from there. The first team is picked from 13 players now … they have confidence and they can win every week and they’ve been doing that.”

Lazaridis is also an advocate of coach Kenny Lowe, who has been stencilled with a no frills tag, but has got his team playing with panache and power.

“Kenny Lowe gets his teams fit and hungry and he keeps them on edge. That’s the way he is … a team mimics its coach and that’s what you are seeing.

“Kenny is big on fitness; he still does marathons himself and he's about never giving up.

"In saying that they are playing some good football also and have developed an aura of intimidation now - nobody wants to play them now.

“They are the team everybody wants to avoid in the playoffs.”

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4 min read
Published 6 April 2016 at 4:29pm
By Dave Lewis