Western Sydney Wanderers 2020/21 season preview

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After missing the finals for three consecutive seasons, the Red & Black have raided their rivals for an exciting, new-look squad.

The question is: does Carl Robinson and his Western Sydney Wanderers have what it takes to restore the club to its former glory?

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Last season…
A-League: 9th
FFA Cup: Quarter-Finals

They’ll win the league because…

Two weeks out from their season opener, the Wanderers had done little to improve on the squad that finished third from bottom last term. Then in the space of a few days they landed James Troisi, Bernie Ibini and Ziggy Gordon.

Adding to the earlier signings of former West Brom star, Graham Dorrans and impressive midfielder, Anthony Lesiotis, this completed an excellent recruitment drive that puts the Wanderers right back into finals contention. And with the highly rated Carl Robinson bringing years of experience from England to the head coaching role, something special seems to be brewing out west.

If the recent Covid spike can be put to bed then the return of uncapped crowds will arguably favour the Wanderers more than any of their rivals; the effect of a full house and a bouncing RBB on this team is unrivalled. The competition itself will be hoping for a winning Wanderers side, as this has historically translated into a strong A-League.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

While the Wanderers have made some great acquisitions, they have also bid farewell to some of their best performers from recent times. Among them, former captain and top scorer Mitch Duke, Socceroos defender Matt Jurman, and popular goalkeeper Daniel Lopar. Filling the void left by this star trio will be paramount to the Wanderers’ fortunes this season. And given the likes of Troisi and Ibini have struggled with injury and form in recent years, there is no guarantee their new signings will solve all their problems.

Instability has been a real issue for the Wanderers in recent seasons, too. The club has been through a revolving door of head coaches since Tony Popovic’s departure with the axe falling on three managers in less than three years. Carl Robinson will be looking for immediate results to break that cycle but rebuilding a club can be a slow-burn process.

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The off-season brought

Lots of change. Despite some late promise shown under the guidance of Jean-Paul de Marigny, the Wanderers responded to their ninth-place finish by moving him on. Robinson was appointed as his replacement while Rangers legend Kenny Miller joined as his assistant. This was followed by plenty of aforementioned squad movement.

The Wanderers made themselves plenty of enemies along the way, too. Newcastle Jets, Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United were all left vexed as some big-name players and coaches terminated contracts to join the Western Sydney rebuild, setting up some spiteful encounters for the new season.

Key player

Nicolai Muller. The Wanderers struggled for goals last season and the loss of Mitch Duke, who topped the club’s scoring charts with 13 last season, is only going to make things harder. For this reason, the pressure is on Nicolai Muller to step up and lead the Red & Black attack.

The former German international joined the Wanderers from Eintracht Frankfurt last season and showed glimpses of brilliance with five goals and three assists in 19 appearances. His debut campaign was cut short by a nasty head injury but Muller is now back to full fitness and enjoying his first pre-season in Australia.

With all his experience playing in the Bundesliga and the German national team, Muller has to be the man to lead the Wanderers revival this season.

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One to watch

James Troisi. His switch to the Wanderers from Adelaide just two weeks out from round one has caused quite a stir, and now it’s up to Troisi to prove he was worth all the hassle.

Wanderers fans will be expecting big things from Troisi, and rightly so. The attacking midfielder etched his name into Socceroos history by scoring the winning goal of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup Final, and also tasted A-League Grand Final glory with Melbourne Victory.

The 32-year-old has perhaps not been at his best in recent seasons but if anyone is to bring out the best in him, it is Carl Robinson. After unsuccessfully trying to sign Troisi while coaching MLS side Vancouver in 2015, Robinson now finally gets his chance to work with him. If Troisi can just stay fit and focused he could make quite an impact the Wanderers this season.

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INS: Graham Dorrans (Dundee, Scotland), James Troisi (Adelaide United), Bernie Ibini (Central Coast Mariners), Ziggy Gordon (Central Coast Mariners), Anthony Lesiotis (Melbourne Victory), Phillip Cancar (NK Hrvatski Dragovoljac, Croatia), Daniel Margush (Perth Glory)

OUTS: Mitch Duke, Matthew Jurman, Andrew Lopar, Nick Suman, Pirmin Schwegler, Radi Majewski, Mathieu Cordier, Nick Sullivan

Full squad list

Goalkeepers: Vedran Janjetovic, Daniel Margush

Defenders: Dylan McGowan, Daniel Georgievski, Patrick Ziegler, Ziggy Gordon, Tate Russell, Phillip Cancar, Tass Mourdoukoutas, Noah Pagden, Jarrod Carluccio, Mark Natta, Daniel Wilmering, Thomas Aquilina

Midfielders: James Troisi, Graham Dorrans, Anthony Lesiotis, Keanu Baccus, Jordan O’Doherty, Kosta Grozos, Alessandro Lopane, Fabian Monge

Forwards: Nicolai Muller, Simon Cox, Bernie Ibini, Kwame Yeboah, Bruce Kamau, Stefan Nikolic, Mohamed Adam

Feature Image Credit: Steve Christo

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Jye Campbell
Journalism student at Western Sydney. Love my football (#lazoumance) and rugby league (#pantherpride). Advocate for FIFA Career Modes. Covering Western Sydney Wanderers in both A-League and W-League for the 2020/21 season.

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