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Apr 13, 2012   |  3:05PM AET

Football must come first

Football must come first

What a week in the A-League. I think Central Coast might just edge Perth in the grand final qualifier, but I can’t see who wins in the stoush between FFA and Nathan Tinkler.

It-s a tough call to say who-s going to come out on top in this weekend-s grand final qualifier.

Perth have been excellent the past two or three weeks, so if I go with my heart, I-ll go with Glory.

I know Fergie well; he took a lot of stick this season and a lot of people doubted he was the man to do a good job at Perth but he-s proved them all wrong and got them playing some great stuff.

But, I also know Arnie well from the national team, so my head tells me the Mariners- experience over the last couple of seasons at the pointy end, and knowing what it takes to come back after being a couple of goals down, and being at home might just edge it in their favour.

Perth have enjoyed fantastic support at home over the last few weeks, and it really has been a joy to watch the atmosphere and the noise in the Shed. It-s back to the old days of having great Glory support.

I think the biggest factor for Glory this season is that in a short period of time in management, Fergie-s listened to people and he-s learnt.

His man-management style was criticised early doors, and the improvement there has been massive. His knowledge of the game has always been good, but he-s realised it-s important to not only keep your first XI happy but the entire squad.

You can-t keep everyone happy all the time but you can be honest and upfront, and you continually encourage.

That-s something Central Coast have done extremely well. They don-t have stars, and that-s something Fergie-s brought to Perth Glory this season and it-s been of benefit to the club.

On the field. Liam miller has been crucial, he is an excellent player. His performance at the weekend was top class. That ball to Billy Mehmet in the game against Wellington – you-d be raving about if it was in Champions League football; the execution, the vision the quality.

And Shane Smeltz – to score four goals, then three goals – you might keep him quiet for 89 minutes but then he-ll pop up and score a goal.

And then they-ve got the stability in a good goalkeeper like Danny Vukovic who uses the ball well, Jacob Burns back in the team, Travis Dodd, Andrezinho – they-ve got an all-round package and if they were to beat Central Coast I wouldn-t be surprised. I just believe the Mariners might have the experience to edge through.

But it-s hard not to look at everything else that-s been going on in the Hyundai A-League this week.

The Newcastle Jets situation has been a shock to everyone. Ben Buckley said FFA have tried to meet with HSG, then Troy palmer who said they-ve tried to get meeting with FFA and that never happened. Both sides have been saying the same story, so I don-t know what to believe.

I can-t believe for one minute that Nathan Tinkler has come out of that decision knowing that FFA are going to be able to sue him for millions of dollars. I can-t believe that he wouldn-t have that researched and be covered.

Ben Buckley has been good enough to come forward and say that FFA are willing to sit around a table and discuss these problems and try to find a way to solve the problem. I actually feel sorry for Ben at the moment; he-s taking a lot of flak and I don-t know how much control over the situation he has.

Maybe the future of our game is FFA solely focusing on the national teams – that-s been spoken about, and Mr Lowy doesn-t want it to happen.

But what it comes back to, is Mr Lowy in control of the game because he wants to grow it into the great game we all know it can be or because of control? I-m not 100 per cent sure.

I want people involved in our game that want to grow the sport, that want it to continue to improve, and expansion should happen when the time is right. There are too many things at the moment that aren-t right for us to be introducing new teams.

Look at the Clive Palmer situation -AFL doesn-t have a sole ownership model and they learnt their lessons; whether that-s the way forward I don-t have the experience to say. But the people with the finances need to understand football people should run the football set-up – I can-t tell Clive palmer how to run a mining business.

You need that divide and put people in areas of their expertise. If I need a knee operation I-m not going to see an ankle specialist.

At the moment we-re hearing so many different things there-s no confidence. Also, Troy Palmer says, “we-ve not had our questions answered.” Well, what are these questions? Let-s get them into the public domain so we can form an educated opinion.

The problem here is, like the announcement of western Sydney, the last thing that has been thought about is football. We need people involved in our game who will always put football first.