There still may be two rounds and finals to come, but it appears next season’s managers under the most pressure have been identified.
Markus Babbel and Warren Joyce may not have set the world on fire in their first and second seasons in charge respectively, but will be given an extra season according to reports.
The World Game says the under-fire Melbourne City manager is likely to be given a one-year contract extension while Dominic Bossi revealed the Western Sydney Wanderers will stick with Babbel, despite missing the finals.
While this season has been a letdown for both sides, it is not as though they have not shown promise in glimpses.
Babbel’s saving grace has been his side’s reinvigoration after slumping to a sixth successive league defeat in January – one which saw four wins, two draws and three losses, placing the Wanderers within touching distance of the top six.
An advocate for youth football, Babbel blooded plenty of youth as part of the team’s revival and appears to have done enough within this space of time to be the manager to lead the Wanderers into a new era.
Meanwhile the calls for Joyce’s head have been heard since November last year.
After being barricaded with questions about Bruno Fornaroli’s absence for months on end – the former Wigan boss can breathe a sigh of relief ahead of the finals series.
While City have ground out results and boast an impressive home record – their performances have left fans uninspired too many times for them to be hopeful of a deep finals run.
Should both coaches lead their respective sides into next season it will be done with a clean slate – albeit one carrying greater expectations than ever before.
Babbel will have to shoulder leading the Wanderers into a new era where finals will be a minimum, especially at their new home ground.
For Joyce the expectation will be silverware in his third season at the club – given there is no reason for any internal conflict after Fornaroli’s departure and the squad will largely consist of players brought in under him.
In saying this, Joyce can still win over his critics this season with Melbourne City in the hunt for a fourth placed finish, which would see them host an Elimination Final.
But regardless of what happens this season the magnifying glass will be firm set on both clubs and managers.
Featured Image: Ngau Kai Yan