Western Sydney Wanderers 2019/20 season preview

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After three fruitless years of nomadic existence, a welcome return to Wanderland beckons for the Western Sydney Wanderers in 2019/20.

But can their passionate fan base flock back to Bankwest Stadium and spark a turnaround in the club’s on-field fortunes?

Last season…

A-League: 8th
Finals: Did not qualify
FFA Cup: Semi-Final

They’ll win the league because…

The flame has been re-lit in Sydney’s West. The eagerly anticipated fresh pastures of Bankwest Stadium will unite what was threatening to become a fractured and disgruntled fanbase, and the impact of the Red and Black Bloc in full voice should not be underestimated.

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There is also a cause for optimism on the pitch, with a number of impressive new signings in key positions.

Last season the Red and Black conceded 54 goals – the highest single-season tally in the club’s history. Enter Swiss shot-stopper Daniel Lopar alongside defensive trio Matthew Jurman, Dylan McGowan and Daniel Georgievski, who are all experienced, fully-fledged internationals that inject over 350 combined A-League appearances to sure things up at the back.

Not to mention, they have ‘The Football God’ on their side. Step aside Robbie Fowler Alexander Meier has arrived, armed with his incredible résumé of 119 goals over 14 Bundesliga seasons at Eintracht Frankfurt. Should the six-foot-five German marksman hit the ground running, the Wanderers will take some stopping.

If it all comes together on the pitch, the incredible scenes of Wanderland circa 2015 may well be restored.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

If their past few seasons are anything to go by, the Wanderers are on a downward spiral. The incredible overachievements during the club’s opening seasons have been followed by a period of underachievement, with consecutive 6th, 7th and 8th spot finishes.

While there is a fair case for optimism due to Markus Babbel’s movements in the transfer market, there are no guarantees that his refreshed squad will instantly gel and function as desired. The reality is they must do so, as it is vital, after missing the finals by 16 points last year.

Additionally, injuries have the worrying potential to derail their campaign. Marquee Radosław Majewski has suffered suspected anterior cruciate and medial ligament damage and appears destined for surgery that will rule him out for a hefty portion of the season.

Meier’s injury record is also not the greatest reading for Wanderers fans, while newly appointed club captain Mitchell Duke’s pre-season has been hampered by a knee complaint.

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Having beaten the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben to the Bundesliga top scorer accolade in 2014/15, Meier will become the third player to grace the A-League having previously won a Golden Boot in one of Europe’s top five leagues.

The other two? Sydney FC’s Dwight Yorke for Manchester United in the 1998/99 English Premier League and Alessandro Del Piero for Juventus in the 2007/08 Serie A.

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The off-season brought…

Transition, transition, transition. Both on the pitch, as well as off it. Babbel was granted full reign to overhaul his squad and he has done exactly that.

The new stadium was not the only sparkling facility that opened its doors for the first time, as the club completed stage one of their Centre of Football: a state-of-the-art central hub for training and administration.

Wanderers fans were offered a taste of their new home during a friendly against Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United back in July, before the club’s FFA Cup run came to a halt at the hands of Melbourne City in the quarter-finals last month.

Elsewhere the club’s NPL New South Wales 2 side narrowly missed out on promotion to the top flight but, more importantly, continued to act as a conveyer belt for promising Australian talent. Notably, the club saw a number of its youngsters selected to represent the Olyroos, Young Socceroos and Joeys.

Key player…

Pirmin Schwegler. A classy midfielder of considerable pedigree, the 32-year-old ventures down under with over 15 years of top-flight experience in Switzerland and Germany under his belt.

A player capable of turning the screws and winning the battle in the centre of the park, the onus is on the Swiss international to be Western Sydney’s midfield lynch-pin.

One to watch…

Mohamed Adam. The tricky attacker is fresh off a successful NPL NSW 2 season where 21 goals in 21 games earned him the Golden Boot and Player of the Year accolades, as well as the Wanderers Academy Youth Player of the Year Award.

He was also rewarded with a two-year scholarship contract in August after registering a goal and assist against Perth Glory in his senior competitive debut in the FFA Cup Round of 32.

As a lifelong fan of the club, there is no questioning the 19-year-old’s passion and desire to leave a stamp on the competition.

Babbel showed in the latter half of last season he is more than willing to hand worthy young talents an opportunity and if given the chance Adam could well emulate the likes of Daniel Arzani and Sarpreet Singh to experience a breakout campaign in 2019/20.

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INS: Daniel Georgievski (Newcastle Jets), Pirmin Schwegler (Hannover 96), Daniel Lopar (St. Gallen), Radoslaw Majewski (Pogon Szczecin), Dylan McGowan (Vendsyssel), Nick Sullivan (Cova da Piedade), Mohamed Adam (promoted), Matthew Jurman (Al-Ittihad), Alexander Meier (FC St. Pauli)

OUTS: Mark Bridge (Mounties Wanderers), Brendan Hamill (Western United), Giancarlo Gallifuoco (Central Coast Mariners), Josh Risdon (Western United), Oriol Riera (CF Fuenlabrada), Roly Bonevacia (Al-Faisaly FC), Alexander Baumjohann (Sydney FC), Jaushua Sotirio (Wellington Phoenix), Abraham Majok (Central Coast Mariners), Nick Fitzgerald (Newcastle Jets), Marc Tokich, Rashid Mahazi, Raul Llorente, John Roberts (all released)

Full squad list

Goalkeepers – Vedran Janjetovic, Daniel Lopar, Nicholas Suman, Danijel Nizic

Defenders – Mathieu Cordier, Tarek Elrich, Daniel Georgievski, Matthew Jurman, Dylan McGowan (VC), Tass Mourdoukoutas, Tate Russell, Daniel Wilmering, Patrick Ziegler

Midfielders – Keanu Baccus, Kosta Grozos, Radoslaw Majewski, Fabian Monge, Jordan O’Doherty, Pirmin Schwegler, Nick Sullivan

Forwards – Mohamed Adam, Mitchell Duke (C), Bruce Kamau, Alexander Meier, Kwame Yeboah

Feature Image Credit: Steve Christo

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Chris Curulli
Passionate Sports Media student and all round football obsessive, covering the Western Sydney Wanderers for the 2019/20 season.