May 17, 2014 – 12:00AM
Hungry for more: Matthew Spiranovic. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Matthew Spiranovic will travel to Brazil with the clarity of his future secured after signing a two-year contract extension with Western Sydney Wanderers.
The 25-year-old defender made a considerable show of faith in Australian domestic football by re-signing with the Wanderers before putting himself on display in world football’s greatest shopping window, the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Spiranovic was out of contract as he prepared for Brazil and would have been free to pursue a potential move abroad had he attracted attention of European suitors, instead opting to remain with the Wanderers.
Since regaining full fitness under the guidance of Tony Popovic, Spiranovic emerged as an integral figure in Western Sydney‘s defence that lead them to a second grand final appearance and the AFC Champions League quarter-finals. It’s understood that playing under the Wanderers coach was a decisive factor in Spiranovic’s decision to commit until the end of the 2015/16 A-League season.
The retention of Spiranovic occured as the Wanderers step-up their pursuit of former Sydney FC coach Ian Crook who is on the cusp of making a cross-town switch to Western Sydney after holding preliminary talks to become their new assistant coach.
With their season completed and players now on leave, the Wanderers’ attention has turned towards finding a replacement assistant coach.
Following the departure of former assistant coach Ante Milicic to the Socceroos for the coming World Cup, the Wanderers have moved towards appointing the former head coach of their biggest rival as understudy to Tony Popovic.
The two met on Friday, but it was not a formal interview and club sources say a deal is yet to be concluded.
It has been confirmed, though, that Crook is favourite for the position, and he is highly regarded by the coaching staff and the club’s hierarchy.
Despite both Crook and Popovic previously coaching at Sydney FC, the two never worked together at the Sky Blues, and it was Crook who replaced Popovic as assistant coach in 2011 under the tenure of Vitezlav Lavicka.
Crook was later appointed as Lavicka’s replacement as head coach in 2012 before resigning after just six games in charge due to health and personal reasons, but he was remembered for overseeing the inaugural A-League derby, which Sydney won 1-0 at Parramatta.
Meanwhile, Sydney FC are close to re-signing Serbian midfielder Milos Dimitrijevic on a one-year-deal. The Sky Blues are in advanced talks with the 30-year-old, who could become the third off-season recruitment within a week following the signing of Bernie Ibini on loan from Shanghai SIPG and the retention of defender Matt Jurman.
Despite playing only nine games in the A-League last season, the central midfielder did enough to convince Sydney of retaining him for another year. It is understood new coach Graham Arnold has also approved of keeping him on board.
The former Nantes, Red Star Belgrade and Chievo player had not played football for 18 months when he joined Sydney in February last year, and the club is hopeful Dimitrijevic will emerge as one of the strongest midfielders in the competition, given a full pre-season and proper preparations. Should he sign, he will join compatriot Nikola Petkovic at the club, though Serbian striker Ranko Despotovic is unlikely to be given a new deal.
Source : The Sydney Morning Herald