Wanderers are the villain the A-League needs

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Western Sydney Wanderers ruffled a lot of feathers during the off-season with their pursuit of Carl Robinson and several key players from rival squads.

The Wanderers were able to sign Carl Robinson and Bernie Ibini from the Newcastle Jets, James Troisi from Adelaide United, and Ziggy Gordon from the Central Coast Mariners. All of them were under contract with their club at the time.

Rival fans were extremely unhappy to lose their players so soon before the season starte as this meant there was almost no time to find replacements. Although Robinson has played down the villain role, rival fans have still not forgiven the Wanderers for its actions.

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The Wanderers should embrace the role as the villain of the A-League. The league is desperate for unique storylines as they help create reasons for fans to become interested in the league and attend games.

It is a common marketing ploy in professional sports that the more you dislike an opposition club, the more you feel attached to the one you support. That increase in loyalty/attachment will often lead to further ticket sales, merchandise and television audience.

Every good story needs a good villain for the hero to defeat: a great example of this type of story telling is professional wrestling. Their stories are based on a good guy and a bad guy where people will pay to see the good guy finally overcome the villain.

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So with the Wanderers becoming the villain, this will enable other clubs to play the hero role and increase interest in the games: just look at the atmosphere and attention given to the Mariners when they took on evil Ziggy Gordon and the no-good Wanderers on Tuesday night.

Likewise, if it were not for Covid then the Jets vs Wanderers would have been one of the biggest games in Newcastle for the season.

So, if the Wanderers being the villain helps the league what is in it for the Wanderers?

Siege mentality.

The Red & Black will be able to use siege mentality to create an “us against the world” feeling at the club. The players and fans will feel like everyone is out to get them and this will force them to become closer and prove the doubters wrong.

The fans will want to get behind their club and, in their eyes, the club they love would not be a villain but an anti-hero.

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All in all it would be beneficial to the Wanderers and the league if they were to lean into the villain role and help to create unique and interesting storylines.

We can already see this happening.

Feature image credit: Steve Christo

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Ben Johnston
I grew up on the Central Coast and fell in love with football in 2005. Supporter of Mariners, Manchester United and Macclesfield Town.