The Wanderers just missed out on the 2013/2014 Championship trophy, again defying the odds for the second year running. Most had questioned if the Wanderers could repeat the fairy tale run of 2012/2013, as well as the added strain of a maiden Asian Champions League campaign.
New recruits Brendon Santalab and Tomi Juric, added the necessary spark upfront to justify the release of former fan favourite Dino Kresinger.
While Socceroos defender Mathew Spiranovic’s gamble to return to the A-League under the tutelage of Tony Popovic, was rewarded with a World Cup call up.
Polenz and Hersi couldn’t replicate their stellar form from the previous season and struggled to make any significant impact.
Coach Tony Popovic isn’t one to rest on his laurels, releasing several key players who played a significant part in the club over the first two seasons.
Shinji Ono, Youssouf Hersi, Jerome Polenz, Adam D’Apuzzo, Aaron Mooy and Jerrad Tyson, all departed the club. While some of the replacements for the outgoing players are Vitor Saba, Romeo Castelen, Brendon Hamill and Antony Golec.
Saba’s been brought in to fill the void left by marquee Shinji Ono, his arrival from Italy’s second division has been met with great anticipation. He’s shown glimpses of his potential during the Asian Champions League (ACL) knockout phase.
Castelen is a straight replacement for the Perth bound Hersi, he’s a Dutch winger who primarily operates on the right flank. Castelen joins the Wanderers from the Eredivisie in the Netherlands, where he hit double digits in assists for his club, RKC Waalwijk.
Golec has joined the Wanderers after failing to pass a medical in China, however, the ill-fated move has been a blessing for both player and club.
Golec’s been one of the most influential players in the ACL, for the Wanderers. Playing out of position, Golec has adapted extremely well to his left back role.
“Personally and for the club, it’s the same ambition to win the grand final, this season. We are showing on the East of Asia, we are the best team,” he said.
“We aren’t going into the A-League cocky, we are going to work hard and I am really looking forward to it.”
“Im working very hard, I still have a lot to improve. I definitely enjoy playing left back, im not a natural left back, but I feel like im learning a lot and he is [Popovic] teaching me and guiding me along, and so are the boys.”
The Wanderers main x-factor is coach, Tony Popovic. He’s done a remarkable job in his first two seasons in charge and will look to go one step further this season. However with most clubs in the A-League recruiting well, this season will be one of the most closely contested.
The Wanderers are fortunate the Asian Cup will bring a well-timed break, giving the coaching staff and players an opportunity to fine tune things leading into the finals.
The Wanderers will play finals football, potentially as Champions of Asia.