In a surprising turn of events, Tony Popovic has left the Western Sydney Wanderers. Popovic will take the helm for, Turkish side, Karabukspor.
The shock move comes just 1 week before the start the the A-League season and on the back of perhaps the Wanderers’ best and most settled pre-season. The Wanderers looked set to have a great start to their campaign, for the first time in their history, but a sudden change in head coach at the 11th hour may prove to be costly. Furthering these concerns are rumours that Popovic’s coaching staff, in Andreas Carrasco, Hayden Foxe and Zeljko Kalac, are also set to depart the Wanderers. This would leave nobody familiar with the newly formed (and for once gelled) squad and their gameplay/style of play to take over. How the Wanderers address this issue is yet to be seen, but there are a few rumoured suitable replacements, which we will explore in detail in the days ahead (cough, cough, Gombau, cough).
Rather than lose ourselves in the uncertainties of the near future, we will instead be taking a moment to appreciate the achievements of our Super Coach, Tony Popovic and the legacy he leaves behind. This truly is an end of an era.
The Father – our founding coach
Tony Popovic is the greatest and only coach the Western Sydney Wanderers have had (so far at least). With only a short amount of time, he put together a ‘rag-tag’ group of players and made a brand new team. At the time, all of the fans in the West were happy to just have a team and would have settled for getting at least a single win in their maiden campaign. As we all know, they got so much more. Popa managed to take players who were on the out and unwanted by their clubs, lure in some unkown heroes such as Shinji Ono, and turn them into a dedicated and efficient army. Popa’s team truly represented Western Sydney. This was largely due to the way Popa managed to inspire the team and instill a proud honour of playing for the badge (a badge that had only just been created) as though they were playing for the most important team on the planet. The guidance and self-belief Popa brought with him allowed this group of misfits to achieve unprecedented glory.
Stocking the Trophy Cabinet – our champion
The Wanderers, under the guidance of Popa, managed to win the Premier’s Plate in their maiden season, qualifying for the Asian Champion League as a result. No one could have predicted what Popa and his Wanderers would achieve in their first ever season, competing against much more experienced teams. Amazingly, they also went on to win the ACL title in their first attempt and are still the only Australian team to do so. This achievement will live on through the Football History Books for all time. Truly, none will ever emulate our pride.
Further, Popa also made it to the A-League Grand Final on 3 separate occasions, losing as underdogs each time. There is no doubting these amazing achievements, or that Tony Popovic had a major part in all of them.
While there were down-times, particularly last season, this does not overshadow his tremendous victories. Even though there was a bit of a ‘falling out’ of sorts last season, with many calling for Popa to move on, we will always be thankful for everything he has done and achieved for our proud Western Sydney Wanderers.
To the Future
While Popa leaving is the end of an era, we remember (as pointed out by our friend Paul Boudaher on twitter) suits will come and go but the bloc will never fall. Now it’s time to lose yourself for West Sydney!!!