Loss of Tony Popovic is a loss of Western Sydney Wanderers’ core identity

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Dominic Bossi

John Tsatsimas has fronted up to some difficult press conferences in his time as Western Sydney Wanderers chief executive, but never had he looked so solemn. He only had to glance left to explain why.

On the adjacent wall is the only image displayed in the club’s modest temporary boardroom – a black and white mural of the 2014 Asian Champions League-winning side. Only head coach Tony Popovic was portrayed in full colour with his famous post-match comments printed above: ​”We were called a small club yesterday. Today we are the biggest in Asia.”


As Popovic sat beneath his own motif announcing his shock resignation as head coach to join Karabukspor on the eve of the new campaign, it wasn’t just the hopes of the season that were left in tatters, but potentially the core identity of the club. And he knew it too.

“I told John I have an uneasy feeling in my stomach and a lot of that might be as well from starting the club from scratch,” Popovic said.

In 2012, he stood down from his role as assistant coach for Crystal Palace to lead the fledging Wanderers, building it from the ground up. He established a ruthless streak, a resolute mentality and a culture of success born of iron discipline.

Those traits remain in today’s squad, but sadly only Mark Bridge –  back at the club this season after a year in Thailand – played in that inaugural season. Popovic’s strict regime wears out many who go through the club’s training base in Blacktown and his reign was marked by a high turnover of players.
Source  :  The Canberra Times

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