You have more chance of winning the lotto than successfully picking Wanderers starting XI for any given game, Popa’s chopping and changing are becoming the stuff of legend.
This is not a “Popa out” post, in fact it is a “In Popa we (might as well have blind) trust” article.
Upon seeing a team which had 3 players i would term starters in Cornthwaite, Janjetovic and Martinez, many of us were preparing for the worst.
At 2-0 down things were shaping to get ugly and that was only compounded by Nico’s penalty miss.
But Popovic isn’t a manager you can pigeon hole with the usual tennants of rationale, reason, logic, scheduling or precedent.
Popa makes his own rules and for right or wrong is 3 games from glory.
In retrospect, his decisions were a masterstroke, our squad got a hit out, our core unit had a rest and there are no injuries to derail our pursuit of an allusive Championship.
Across the city Ninkovic was crocked and the Smurfs are lucky that they have a weeks rest.
Even when we have a loaded schedule, Popa still gives his players a weeks rest!
We got out of it with our 12th draw of the season, an A-League record.
Before we complain about that or look at it as a negative, just 7 losses in a season is equal second best this year, we may not be winning games, but we are finding out ways not to lose.
Further to this, our A-League record has been fantastic since we drew with Adelaide United at home on the 4th of March.
Since then we have defeated Wellington, Melbourne City, Newcastle drawn with the Victory and then drawn again with Adelaide.
The knockout rounds provide Wanderers with a unique advantage, 0-0 over 120 minutes and a win on penalties are worth the same as 3-0 in this format.
We have 3 more games we have to avoid defeat in, something we have proven adept at.
Instead of lamenting for decisions we would have made, lets back the Gaffer, the decisions he has made have propelled Wanderers to the semi finals for the 4th time in 5 years after all.
If we take Redmayne’s mistakes out of the start of the season we would have finished higher, with Vedran we have a top quality keeper himself desperate to defeat those who would offer him candy at half time.
I am positive about our chances, Wanderers have never lost a semi final in any format.
We have broken our duck against the Easterners and apart from a round 1 trouncing, we played the better football in the other 2 games, including the draw at Allianz.
The teams above us are beatable, we defeated Sydney FC, Melbourne City and drew with the Victory in our last games against them and our reverse vs Brisbane was cruelly in injury time.
We are not a mile behind anyone.
The Tinkerman has all his players to call upon for next week, rested as if they had finished 4 places higher and with a squad champing at the bit to impress.
When the dust settles from today games, whoever draws us will not be happy.