The ‘unacceptable’ performance of Perth Glory led to the dismissal of Ian Ferguson as coach, owner Tony Sage said on Monday.
Ferguson was dismissed after almost two-and-a-half years in the role he had inherited from David Mitchell, with Australia Under-17 coach and former Glory striker Alistair Edwards appointed as interim coach for the remainder of the season.
Ferguson led the Glory to the 2011/12 A-League Grand Final, but Perth have failed to emulate that form this season and had slumped to the bottom of the table.
A fifth-straight loss on Saturday – to Melbourne Heart – was the final straw, with Sage fronting the press on Monday to confirm reports Ferguson had been sacked and Edwards and assistant Gareth Naven had been appointed.
“It was mutually agreed that (Ferguson) leave the club, and we have appointed Alistair Edwards as the new manager, and as his assistant, Gareth Naven,” Sage told reporters, going on to thank Football Federation Australia for temporarily releasing Edwards from his national team duties.
“(Ferguson) agreed that it was unacceptable being bottom of the league, given the squad he’s got, and we again mutually agreed it’s best for him to go.
“It’s an interim situation. What we’re going to do from tomorrow, under (deputy chairman) Lui Giuliani, is advertise worldwide for a coach for next season.”
Sage said he did not believe Ferguson had ‘lost the players’, but he disagreed with the Scot’s assessment after Saturday’s loss to Melbourne Heart that he lacked squad depth due to budget cuts.
“I don’t agree with that. He had the full support of finances. He assembled his squad by June 30. That squad cost $3.2 million. Our salary cap is $2.5 million, so I can’t understand a comment like that,” Sage said.
“I take that as a slight on the club.”
Sage also revealed he was ‘upset’ with the comments made by Ferguson about the chairman’s health, but was adamant it had no bearing on his departure.
Glory are hoping to have their new full-time coach in place by ‘late May or early June’, with Edwards or Naven free to apply for the role should they desire.
Edwards empathised with Ferguson’s sacking, and revealed he had called the former North Queensland Fury coach soon after being offered the Glory job.
“There’s no doubt it’s a fantastic club. It’s one of the biggest clubs in the A-League. It’s got a fantastic history,” Edwards said.
“(Ferguson) has taken the team to the grand final the previous year, so to now be in the situation he is shows the perilous nature of football.
“We discussed that as a playing group just before we came into this press conference, and we’re really looking forward to moving forward, bearing in mind we should acknowledge publicly the contribution Ian has made to the game.”
On speculation of his poor health, Sage admitted he would be undergoing an operation on Tuesday but could be back ‘running’ by next week, according to doctors.