Perth Glory boss Tony Sage has not given up hope of persuading ageing marksman Robbie Fowler to extend his contract for one last season.
Seven goals in 15 starts has the 35-year-old alongside Brisbane’s Jean Carlos Solorzano and Wellington’s English striker Paul Ifiill atop the rankings and Sage believes the ex-Liverpool legend has been one of the few highs in a season of lows from Ian Ferguson’s men.
While also confirming that two-time Golden Boot Shane Smeltz could be on his radar for 2010-2011, Sage insisted that persuading Fowler to commit to a second year at nib Stadium is a priority.
“Robbie wants to keep playing for another year and the determining factor for in will be his family and where they want to be,” Sage told reporters.
“He wants to stay with us on personal level, however family considerations will come first and no decision has been made yet on that score.
“Robbie loves it here and talk about him linking up with his old mate Karl Robinson at England’s MK Dons (in a player coaching role) will only eventuate if he doesn’t get a full time playing gig elsewhere.
“He has done his job for us with seven goals and he’s also set up five. The fact that seven goals makes him joint top scorer is more an indictment on the A-League than it is on Robbie.
“We’re not saying we will re-sign him but we certainly haven’t given up on achieving that outcome. He will talk to his family in January and a decision will be made.”
Fowler’s future is likely to be decided when he heads back to England for a 10-day break after the home clash against Adelaide United on December 22. He will return in time for the January 3 visit to Gold Coast United.
Even if Fowler stays, Sage, who has 11 players coming off contract – is keeping tabs on New Zealand international Smeltz, who has struggled for game time since switching from Gold Coast United to Turkish Super Lig outfit Genclerberligi in August.
“I like the way Shane plays, he the ultimate goal sneak. But we can’t approach anybody until the January window. So we shall wait and see,” Sage added.
Meanwhile Sage has urged Football Federation Australia to expunge referee Kris Griffiths-Jones from its roster this weekend after what he described as a “dreadful” performance officiating the 1-1 draw with North Queensland Fury at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
Naum Sekulovski and Brent Griffiths were sent off and Griffiths-Jones denied Glory what most observers believe were two clear spot-kicks, both infringements against Fowler, with Sage fuming: “I hope that the referee doesn’t get a gig this week, if he does it will be an indictment on the competition after the disaster of his performance.
“For him to deny us too blatant penalties weren’t acceptable. FFA knows he messed up but it won’t admit it publicly.
“The penalty calls were ridiculous. Mark Hughes fouled Robbie twice, the first time he has hauled down and he was body checked in the second incident. Everybody saw how clear cut it was accept the referee.
“Hughes should have been red-carded for the second offence and to make matters worse he was the one who scored Fury’s equaliser (nine minutes from time).
“I couldn’t believe it. The referee should be dropped plain and simple. That’s what happens when a player has a bad game.
“He didn’t just make one mistake in the game, he made about 10 and he should pay the price. I am not in the habit of complaining about referees but this has got my blood boiling.”
Glory has written to FFA voicing its concerns and complaints, with Sage adding: “I made it clear that if the referee doesn’t get dropped for two weeks, he will just do it again. As for the red cards, one was justified and one wasn’t.”
Sage believes ninth-placed Glory, three points out of the play-offs but having played two more games than Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory, can still sneak into the mix, adding: “It’s not over for us yet but we have made it hard for ourselves.”
Buford Balony says: The referee Kris Griffiths-Jones in the game against NQ was pathetic. If he referees again this year it will be a disgrace. He definitely cost the Glory the 3 points in this match. A penalty is a penalty Kris, two you missed that were blatant yet you sent off two Glory players. YOU ARE CRAP.