There is never a dull moment at the Western Sydney Wanderers.
Hyped up as a team to look out for – a bright start from this exciting side on paper quickly faded as pre-season optimism morphed into a tumultuous few weeks as results begun to sour.
Midfielder Keanu Baccus left for international duty with Markus Babbel in charge and returned with assistant Jean-Paul de Marigny elevated into the senior role, after Babbel’s termination in January.
Babbel’s sacking – in addition to Alex Meier’s departure – exacerbated speculation about cultural issues at the Wanderers, who prior to last week’s game had only won once in their last ten.
But the Wanderers – like many clubs around the world this season – were quick to respond under their interim boss, defeating the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford ahead of the season’s second Sydney derby.
“The win was very important I think for our confidence and morale boost in the camp with the derby coming up, so it was a massive game for us,” Baccus told FNR.
“It’s been good, JP’s [de Marigny] been around for a while now as well, so he knows the ins-and-outs and what the boys are like and our strengths-and-weakness. He fits in the role well and hopefully we can get some results.
“I think there’s definitely a bit of a culture swing the boys are looking more confident and we’re ready to go. There’s positivity, everyone seems to be a bit more happy playing with a smile on our face, starting to enjoy football again.”
Western Sydney remains the only side who has beaten Sydney FC this season, with the Wanderers upsetting the Sky Blues in a thriller at Bankwest Stadium earlier in the season.
Albeit both clubs have gone their separate ways since then, with Sydney not having lost since while the Wanderers have only picked up eight points from a possible 36.
Baccus is no stranger to the pressure playing at a club the size of the Wanderers brings, having returned from successfully qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games with the Olyroos.
Australia’s campaign was not without its scrutiny, with the Olyroos qualifying the hard way via a third placed play-off – putting 12 years of disappointment to rest.
“We just had to stick to our game plan,” he said.
“We had a game plan throughout the tournament and we stuck to it in the end we defended well we saw the game out. I think we were fit enough and the boys did well in the end.
“I think we all aspire as young players to play in the Olympics or World Cups, so that kind of pressure is needed for us young players to improve and get better. The more we play in that kind of environment the better we’re going to be as young players.”
Featured Image: Hyundai A-League