The Wanderers kicked off their preseason with consecutive victories but have not been able to maintain the momentum. A 3-0 loss to Melbourne Victory in Tasmania being their worst result in preseason.
During the preseason phase several players on trial were given an opportunity to showcase their talents. Most notable have been Lo and Fofanah, both midfielders. These two young players are assured on the ball, distribute possession well, and are effective going forward.
The Wanderers used much of the 4-2-1-3 formation durning preseason that they utilised last year. Coach Tony Popovic is also willing to rotate his forwards across the frontline. An example is from the recent 2-0 win against Bankstown City Lions, where Santalab played wide left as Haliti lined up through the middle.
The off-season signings of Heffernan, Spiranovic, Santalab and Juric have the potential to take the Wanderers game to the next level if they can produce the goods. While the stingiest defence gets a boost with the addition of Spiranovic, the 25 year old boasts international experience with 16 caps and veteran defender Dean Heffernan has loads of A-League experience. The interesting fact is that Heffernan, Spiranovic and Beauchamp all had stints at German club Nuremberg.
While Kresinger was a cult hero last season amongst the supporters, his work rate could not be questioned but his failure to provide the goals ultimately led to his departure. Juric and Santalab possess the quality to fill the void left by the tall Croatian. Santalab’s experience playing in China will also be valuable for the Wanderers ACL campaign.
The midfield has stayed the same with the usual suspects of Mooy, Ono, Hersi, Polijak, and Bridge to line up in the middle of the park.
Spiranovic’s arrival also gives Popovic the option to make tactical changes and play three at the back, while deploying two wing backs. This system of a possible 3-5-2 would compliment Heffernan as he can get down the left touch line and supply the forwards as he did in the most recent match against Bankstown City Lions. Where Heffernan’s cut back from the byline found Juric for the Wanderers second goal.
Going into round one of the A-League season against the Central Coast Mariners, the Wanderers are definitely in a much better position than they were last season. Their preseason form has seen some patches of brilliant counter attack and direct football. However their have also been periods in matches where the Wanderers have allowed the opposition to get in behind their defence and cause some headaches.