By Jeremy Walker
TOKYO (June 22)--Shimizu S-Pulse's English manager Steve Perryman
has an added incentive to win the J.League's second stage championship,
which kicks off on Saturday.
If S-Pulse can finish on top of the 16-team table in the second
stage, they would meet the winners of the first stage in a two-leg
play-off for the overall title in December.
And that would mean a coaching confrontation with his former
Tottenham team-mate Ossie Ardiles, manager of first-stage champions
Yokohama F Marinos.
The pair worked together for three years at Shimizu from 1996
to 1998, with Ardiles as manager and Perryman as head coach,
before the popular Argentine returned to Europe and eventually
became manager of Croatia Zagreb.
Perryman was promoted to manager and won the second stage of
last season's championship, only to lose the two-leg play-off
in a penalty shoot-out to first-stage champions Jubilo Iwata.
While all this was going on in Japan, Ardiles was having a hard
time in Zagreb, and he was fired last October after the club was
eliminated from the European Champions League.
Ardiles returned to Japan, got the Yokohama job and promptly
won the first stage of the 2000 championship, which ended on May
Everyone seemed surprised...except Perryman.
"His style of management is perfect for the Japanese mentality,"
"It might be his first season with the Marinos but it's his
fourth year in Japan."
Asked to elaborate on Ardiles' style, Perryman adds: "He gives
players confidence and they want to play for him.
"Sometimes he'll hold back from speaking if he feels it would
knock a player's confidence; instead he will concentrate on the
positive things and make them feel good."
Perryman is speaking from experience, as he became firm friends
with Ardiles when the South American star joined Tottenham after
winning the World Cup on home soil with Argentina in 1978.
"He's a World Cup-winner with a bit of style about him, and
when he tells you you're a good player you believe it. He did
this with me at Spurs and I know the benefits of that approach,"
said Perryman, who won two UEFA Cups, two FA Cups and two League
Cups during his career with Spurs.
Even though Ardiles has turned Marinos into championship-winning
material in three months, Perryman feels his S-Pulse team can
improve in the second half of the season.
"We've been lucky with injuries in the past four years, but at
one point in the first stage we had all four front lads injured.
"Consequently we only scored 21 goals in 15 games, yet still
finished third, two points behind Ossie.
"In the second stage, we won't have four strikers injured again,
and I expect us to stay solid at the back, so I think we've got
as good a chance as anyone."