• Christian Marchetti

Season Preview: Can the Wanderers adapt to wholesale changes?

With the new A-League season right around the corner, Front Page Football will be breaking down each club's chances and what we can expect from them in 2020-21.


Next up is the Western Sydney Wanderers.


How did they fare last season?


It was another awful season for the Wanderers, failing to make the finals for a third straight season.


Under Markus Babbel, Western Sydney started well by winning their first three games.


However, horrendous periods of form in both November and January led to the German being sacked.

Markus Babbel was unable to turn the club's fortunes around last season. (Getty Images)


Jean-Paul de Marigny then took over on a caretaker basis for the rest of the season, and almost revived a finals spot.


The club finished just four points off sixth place.


Chairman Paul Lederer decided to poach Carl Robinson from Newcastle ahead of this season as their new manager.


He still did not trust de Marigny for the position permanently, despite a dramatic improvement in form when he took over, leading to some queries by the Wanderers faithful.


Lederer must be full of faith that Robinson can lead the club back into the finals, as he approached him despite the Welshman only being at the Jets for eight months.


What is expected of them this season?


As the only Australian club that has won the Asian Champions League, it is baffling that Western Sydney has been without finals football for this long.


Similarly to the Melbourne Victory, the Wanderers must adopt a 'finals or bust' mentality to avoid disappointing one of the country's most passionate supporter bases yet again.


Although they have come under heavy criticism for how they have gone about their business, the signings they have brought into the club have vast A-League experience.


James Troisi, Bernie Ibini and Ziggy Gordon have all joined the revolution in Wanderland, despite having time remaining on their contracts at previous clubs.

Ibini supposedly used mental health issues as an excuse to leave Newcastle. (Getty Images)


There is no direct correlation between experience and success.


However, Troisi and Ibini have played in crunch A-League games before and should assist their finals pursuit.


Players to watch?


Graham Dorrans is the headline acquisition; the 33-year-old Scot has played in six English Premier League seasons in his career.


He should also provide a goal threat from midfield, something the Wanderers have sorely lacked in previous campaigns.


Simon Cox and Nicolai Müller had interrupted seasons last year, with the pair either suffering from injury problems or not having enough time to adapt to the league.


With a full pre-season under their belts and a coach that allows freedom in the final third, expect the Irishman and the German to cause problems this season.


Any youngsters coming through?


Keanu Baccus has already played over 50 games for the club at the age of 22.


The central midfielder improved significantly last season.


The Wanderers youth product improved on the ball enormously in 2019-20, ridding himself of sloppiness, whilst adding a more creative side to his game.


Daniel Wilmering will hope to return to the fold after regularly featuring at left-back at the start of last season.


His progress was halted by a knee injury back in December that ended his season prematurely.


Tate Russell and Mohamed Adam also regularly featured last season.


The pair are also products of the club's youth system.


Keep an eye out for new signing Anthony Lesiotis.


The 20-year-old showed glimpses of real promise during his brief stint with the Victory.


And how's the manager?


After his very impressive, albeit brief spell with the Jets last season, Carl Robinson is now well-known to Australian football fans.


Robinson guided Newcastle to six wins in his ten games in charge, and they only lost once in that period.


Just like the Wanderers, they did not reach finals despite a late rally, although it can be argued that the Welshman would have got them there with a full season at the helm.

Robinson had a very successful stint at Newcastle last season. (Getty Images)


Based on that hypothesis, the former Vancouver Whitecaps boss should be the right man to lead the three-time A-League runners-up back where they belong.


However, Western Sydney is arguably a much bigger club than the Jets.


The stakes will be raised much higher than they would be at McDonald Jones Stadium.


Fail to make finals, and the 44-year-old can kiss his project with the Wanderers goodbye.