Glory's Smith 'best coach in Australia'
Socceroos and Blackburn Rovers ace Lucas Neill has hailed new Perth Glory coach Ron Smith as the best in Australia.
"In my opinion, Glory have got the most well-prepared and gifted coach that Australian football has produced," declared Neill exclusively to The West Australian.
"Within a very short space of time you will see Glory become a very well-organised team that will challenge for the title."
Neill's endorsement is not to be taken lightly.
In the past two years, he has established himself as a world-class player and his performances during the World Cup prompted Guus Hiddink's deputy, Johan Neeskens, to say Neill could play for any of the glamour clubs.
Neeskens would like the defender to accompany him to Barcelona where the Dutchman has been appointed assistant coach.
Neill revealed Smith had played a significant part in his rise to the elite level.
"When I was 17, he prepared me for a professional career not only technically but also tactically and he's someone I have always been able to call on," Neill said.
"He is highly respected by all the Socceroos players. His analysis and feedback are extremely valuable.
"He's very fair. You always know where you stand with him and I'm sure the Glory players will enjoy working with him."
The players were delighted on Wednesday simply to have a coach in place after months of uncertainty.
"This will help stabilise the club," Bobby Despotovski said.
"Hopefully we can get some other players quickly."
Stan Lazaridis echoed his sentiments.
"Ron comes highly recommended," he said.
"A month is enough time to get things going but there is an urgent need to get a full squad."
For the second time in his career, Lazaridis will play for a club with a woman chief executive.
Karren Brady famously turned Birmingham City into a money-making club in the English Premier League and Football West head Michelle Phillips, appointed on Wednesday, will try to do the same for the Glory in the A-League.
An average crowd of 10,000 and a $400,000 major sponsorship are the key requirements for the club to finish in the black for the first time in six years.
Former owner Nick Tana spent $6 million from 2000 to 2005 to prop up the club.
Phillips has a brief to at least break even by the end of next summer.
Her previous experience as an insolvency consultant will be used to keep the club's expenditure under control.
She believes Australia's recent admission to the massive Asian soccer world has enhanced the value of sponsorship.