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Steve Perryman Ends his Garden Leave

The Purist meets Perryman San

Upon his return from Britain, the former boss of J-League team ‘Shimizu S-Pulse', Steve Perryman, shared with Soccerphile his views on the distinguishing features of the respective World Cup hosts, while revealing exactly what he got up to during his eventful stint ‘back home'.
Perryman resumed the upkeep of his English garden and helped Grecians boss Noel Blake keep Exeter in Nationwide Division Three in a hectic personal end to the season, before answering the call in June to return as assistant to Akira Nishino at Kashiwa Reysol.

"They haven't done badly but not quite as well as they'd like and I'm just going in to help give them a bit of a spark," he summed up.
"They play very much with the same team ethics I like, don't give away red and yellow cards and play a quick passing game to feet," said the former Tottenham skipper, who joins a domestic programme that will set the scene for a unique World Cup edition in which both home sides could spring surprises:
"Guus Hiddink has had a positive effect on Korea and I think their main attributes are their hard work – they have almost a working class ethic – and the aggression in their play.
"I hear good things about their football, he just has to harness all that into a shape and a style."

Despite the recent Suwon Bluewings' triumph in the 2001 Asian Club Championship, Perryman felt the national side's Confederations Cup efforts serve as a truer guide. He conceded to Soccerphile that there is a limit to what can be achieved by the co-hosts:

"South Korea do still lack in the tactical department and probably won't qualify after the first stage.
"Japan I have more hope for," added the 1999 J-League second-stage title-winning boss.
"If they can build in the blood-and-guts side of it and make the most of the emotions of the home crowds, who always push you to attack, they have shown they can make progress.
"People may say they were lucky to win the Asian Cup, but you can only beat who you play, and that was no fluke."

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Watching at home on TV, had he been confident, with half an hour remaining and a man short in the Confederations Cup semi-final against Australia, that the team would keep their lead?
"Yes, I was. It's true that they didn't have a lot to offer in the final third of the pitch, but they were always capable of keeping it organised and I backed them to hold it."
Perryman, who travelled to see Japan's friendlies in both France and Spain, had plenty of praise for the job Philippe Troussier has done with the national team, despite admitting that his view at the time was that appointing the Frenchman was a mistake:
"I still have some differences, and I don't like the offside part of his game, but I think his decisions have worked out well this year.
"If the games in Europe were designed to bring them back down to earth, they did so, even though they were only beaten with the last kick of the game in Spain.
"To an outsider, the game in France [France 5 Japan 0] looked a definite mismatch, and there were players showing their naiveté wearing blades instead of studs on a very wet surface that had been prepared for rugby."
Nakata, given the captaincy by Troussier during the Confederations Cup adventure, has once again found himself in a club versus country conundrum, something Perryman contends many national managers have to suffer more frequently:
"I always sensed problems between him and Nakata. He's sometimes left him out [of the team] and concentrated on who else he had to work with, but on the whole the way Troussier has dealt with enforced changes has been good.
"The team has recovered from the dip that affected most of the players following the Olympics. They were fit and sharp in Cordoba, rode their luck in Beirut against Saudi Arabia, and then got out of jail with some great set pieces in the Confederations Cup."
While his own reverse exile may be over, the timing of the exit of his old colleague and managerial mentor Ossie Ardiles, himself once linked with the Japan job, was far from ideal:
"There goes one of my nights out a week," he joked over the dismissal of the Argentinian by the Yokohama Marinos. Leaving behind his family once again following a holiday in Turkey to rejoin a club well placed in the procession forming behind Iwata, Perryman admitted he won't be missing the English weather, though his garden is a different matter.
"I spent a lot of time in the garden. Refreshing my memory of English cherry blossom after six years away was quite interesting, but it was always my first priority to return to the J. League!"
He also revealed that it will be just as hard to tear himself away once more from the British soccer grapevine, even if some of his compatriots have belatedly entered the 21st century and can now be reached by e-mail.
It was as fire fighter rather than horticulturalist, however, that the English press portrayed him for the duration of his successful spell with Exeter City.
That tag reflected his rejection of all long-term footballing commitments during a typical end-of-season managerial merry-go-round. A change of régime hit three clubs with which Perryman retains lasting links - his boyhood favourites QPR being one:
"I applied for the QPR job but only to the end of the season and they wanted someone there longer term. To be honest I was never going to promise them next year or sit down and work out what the next kit was going to be, or anything along those lines!"
While one of his previous managerial stops, Brentford, also changed manager, it was a Bees connection that was to get him "out of the house".
"It was while I was manager there that I originally got to know Joe Gadston, who invited me down to Exeter.
"There were a lot of things happening at Tottenham, too, with an FA Cup semi-final and my old team-mate Glenn Hoddle taking over.
"But it was just a great time all round. I'll never forget having to make my way into the Torquay away dressing room and the unique atmosphere hitting me all over again after so long.
"I was working with Noel Blake and we were able to focus on immediate results, which improved dramatically."
Indeed, Exeter won nine and drew five of their remaining 18 fixtures with Perryman installed under the grand title of ‘football consultant'.
"It also allowed me to assess coaching methods back home and compare them with my knowledge of the Japanese game.
"The J-League for some may have died a death after such a fanfare start, but it's making a big comeback and I'm looking forward to the professionalism and the job satisfaction again."
Contracted to Kashiwa Reysol until January, the new arrival retains a profile in his homeland, and is consulted regularly over the suitability of Asian players to a move out west.
Perryman is both candid about the relative standards of English and Japanese football and forthright when he insists that any transfer prior to the World Cup is unwise:
"It might be good experience but would be hard for any of the top players to fit in the camps that the league in Japan is set up to promote," he said.
"I consider the top of the J-League to be mid-Division One in England, and Asian players will only be a success there if they go for the right reasons – not just to sell shirts, for example.
"If I was a First Division chairman I would wait and import a couple of players at a time but also take a coach as well – they are not in it for the money, they want to learn.
"But I know myself how hard it is to adapt and you have to do everything possible to make it work. And that doesn't mean having players there on anything but merit."
Considering the flipside one more time, what can next summer's visiting Europeans expect when the World Cup show hits the road in Asia for the very first time?
How will the players fare? Conditions played a part in the showpiece FIFA tournament won by France in June, and the European, World and newly-crowned Federations Cup champions gained an insight into the readiness of both hosts with the big kick-off but 12 months away.
France's Bixente Lizerazu made a couple of remarks about the climate and pollution while congratulating South Korea and Japan on their playing progress. A converted Perryman dismissed such concerns:
"[The climate] is a slight advantage, that's all. As a player, I couldn't have handled the humidity, that's for sure.
"My own personal experience was a bad one when I played over in Seoul against the Cheetahs. There was no hot water in the dressing rooms in those days, but I'm sure the facilities are all in place now.
"They've hosted the Olympics themselves since then, and shown what they can do.
"As for Japan, the stadia are great, the pitches are fine and the organisation is a tribute to one of the chief national characteristics of learning from the rest of the world."
Even so, another issue routinely raised is that of (potential) imported hooliganism.
"I think visiting supporters will be amazed. When I first arrived and realised there were no turnstiles, for example, it was hard to understand why people didn't just barge through, like they would do at home.
"But in five years in Japan I saw just one incident that could be described as violent in any way, and that was a dispute over a taxi!
"It's just not in the nature of the Japanese, and if there is a need to keep troublemakers out, you can be sure they won't leave any stone unturned."
Perryman's unbounded optimism was laced with a ready wit, something perhaps lost on some due to his fierce competitive streak. One thing's for sure: the J-League could wish for no more enthusiastic a football missionary.
"To all those coming over I'd say: expect the best-dressed fans in the world, and don't worry too much about earthquakes!"
And when the whistle blows? "As for their actual chances, the tactics are improving to the point where South Korea and Japan, these so-called second-rate football nations, can compete – but their lack of firepower suggests that the very best will still be able to pick them off, I'm afraid."

The Purist

Steve Perryman Factfile

Date of Birth: 21/December/1951
Place of Birth: Ealing, England
Playing Career: Tottenham Hotspur F.C. (1969-1986); 866 appearances, 39 goals, Oxford United F.C. (1986) 17 appearances, 0 goals, Brentford F.C. (1986-1990); 67 appearances, 0 goals.
Management Career: Brentford F.C. (1986-1990), Watford F.C. (1990-1993), Start F.C., Norway (1994-1995), Shimizu S-Pulse, Japan (1996-2000), Kashiwa Reysol, Japan (2001-2002)
Coaching Honours: Nabisco Cup (1996), J.League Championship Winners 2nd Stage (1999) Asian Cup Winners Cup (2000).

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