The academy duo of Richard Garcia and Steven McGarry have joined Hayden Foxe and Bobby Despotovski as the best placed contenders for the vacant Perth Glory coaching position.
If, as expected, owner Tony Sage follows the recent A-League trend of promoting from within, he won’t be short of options.
Whilst long-time Tony Popovic deputy Foxe has been handed the position on an interim basis ahead of next month’s scheduled resumption of the AFC Champions League, the position remains up for grabs.
And the dark horse duo of former West Ham and Hull City winger Garcia - a veteran of the 2010 FIFA World Cup - and Scotsman McGarry might tickle Sage’s fancy if he’s looking to delve a little deeper.
The pair, who made a total of 172 appearances for Glory between them, have helped produce a record seven graduates into Australia’s under-age teams, and Perth-raised Garcia, 38, is already a first-team assistant and head coach of Glory’s National Youth League side.
While neither has yet been publicly mooted as ready-made Popovic successors, they are certainly in the conversion within the Glory inner sanctum.
Sage is committed to fast-tracking youth to build added sustainability into the club, and will have taken note of their beavering behind their scenes.
The appointments of Grant Brebner as head coach at Melbourne Victory, Warren Moon at Brisbane Roar and today Patrick Kisnorbo at Melbourne City, have accelerated newfound commitment of owners to back in-house talent.
It will be surprising if Sage bucks that trend, especially with club budgets set to be slashed across the A-League next season as a result of rights holder Fox Sports halving their investment in the game.
Club favourite Despotovski, who has been in charge of Glory’s W-League team for two seasons, is also in the mix.
He made 241 appearances as a player across two spells and has been part of the coaching staff since 2015.
Foxe, 43, will have the chance to state his case further, assuming COVID-19 restrictions don’t impede the ACL restart.
The former West Ham and Portsmouth defender will be keen to show how much he’s absorbed working under Popovic for two seasons at Glory and two years at Western Sydney Wanderers before that.
He had a brief spell as Wanderers caretaker coach after Popovic departed for Turkey in 2017, picking up one win and three draws.
But with Glory limping into the finals and on the slide prior to Popovic’s departure for Greece this week, his ascension to the top job cannot be taken for granted.
Glory CEO Tony Pignata said the club would look to appoint “the best credentialed candidate”, whether from in-house or elsewhere.
“It’s an open process and over the next few weeks myself and (football director) Jacob Burns will be making some recommendations to the owner Tony Sage,” he said.