Josep Gombau’s first test as the new Western Sydney Wanderers head coach was not the triumphant return to the A-League fans had been waiting for.

Admittedly it’s still early days, the Spaniard had just run a handful of training sessions prior to facing Melbourne City, but the hype and hoopla surrounding his dogmatic and possessive attacking style of play seemed to fizzle out as the Wanderers clinched onto their fifth draw of the season.

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Gombau himself admitted that it would take time to implement his possession-based game. The question of just how much time is needed is vague and contributes to an already turbulent season of interchanging management.

There is no denying that the Spaniard’s approach to coaching produces results and his second season with Adelaide United is a testament to this. The technical quality of football displayed by the side was second to none during that A-League season. Isaias and Sergio Cirio, both products of the Barcelona youth academy, were the embodiment of the team’s tiki-taka style that passed their way to an inaugural FFA Cup Final victory.

However prior to the side gelling together so well there was a period of experimentation and subsequent frustration. Under Gombau’s first nine matches as Adelaide United coach during the 2013-14 A-League season the Reds had won just a single game and sat slumped two spots from the bottom of the ladder.

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Gombau’s men would eventually go on to somewhat redeem themselves, claiming a series of staggered victories and earning a place in the finals before being ousted by Central Coast Mariners. Unfortunately nine rounds without a win rarely translates to finals success and Adelaide finished their regular season in a very ordinary sixth place.

What this history means for the Wanderers is that even if Gombau successfully implements his possession based game it will likely take several rounds to do so. It’s not to say the Wanderers are a flailing side, but their string of one point games has seen them slip five points below rivals Sydney FC who are currently perched above them in third place.

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There were glimpses of the Catalonian coach’s style on display against Melbourne City however Wanderers fans were left justifiably sceptical that his approach had even started to take effect.

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Ross McCormack could have easily spoiled Gombau’s first game in charge but somehow the Scotsman missed his bundle of chances. Vedran Janjetovic was the saving grace for the red and black on the night after his leaping heroics sparing the Wanderers on a number of occasions including a breathtaking save to deny a frustrated McCormack from a set piece.

On any other night the usually formidable Melbourne City attack would have taken the game with ease. Especially considering the running trend shown by the Wanderers to fizzle out in the second half allowing their opponents to equalise, which was evidenced by Raul Llorente’s  sloppy challenge on Malik which resulted in the penalty to level the two sides.

While some of the outcome can be accredited to Gombau it was clear luck had more of a part to play. Even the nature of Jaushua Sotirio’s goal was unconvincing after his strike only found the back of the net after his first shot.

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However it’s not all doom and gloom for the Wanderers. Gombau stated post match that he was pleased with the side’s performance, albeit with a mixed response from the fans.

The key to Gombau’s success with Adelaide United came from the Barcelona-esque emphasis on passing and movement. The Wanderers successfully accumulated well over 400 passes against Sydney FC and managed to edge Newcastle Jets in possession when they met in round four.

This indicates that the Wanderers are a side which contain all the right pieces for a pressing possession based team, it’s just up to Gombau to slot the signings Popovic selected into a style that works.

Oriol Riera was in the spotlight following his spate of frustration but Gombau laid to rest any claims that there was ill-feelings between the two Spaniards, ensuring that the marquee striker was upset at not receiving enough crosses. The pair have worked together before and along with Alvaro Cejudo could prove to be as fluid and sublime as Isaias and Cirio were under Gombau’s guidance.

But great teams are not developed overnight, and the next few rounds may be the most testing yet for fans who have only ever known one coach.

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Second year bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Wollongong. Aspiring Journalist, looking forward to the coming season!