After slaying Sydney FC in a tumultuous atmosphere at the first Sydney Derby of the year the Wanderers now host Adelaide United and will attempt to solidify their position near the top of the A-League standings.
The two draws that kicked off the season for the Wanderers seem like eons ago in the mind of fans present for the boisterous 2-0 derby win at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Such was the din created by the massive Red and Black Bloc – extending right across the southern end of the stadium and along all tiers of the eastern stand up until halfway – you could have been forgiven for needing to check your match-day program or smartphone app to see whose home game it was.
Those wondering how the Wanderers would be supported after the euphoria of the first season or in the event of a period of lacklustre results now have their answer to the first question.
After only a few rounds the Wanderers supporters have proven they are the most passionate of any Sydney team in any code; and may only trail the Melbourne Victory support group due to the sheer size of the Melbourne team’s following.
The massive hype in the build-up to the match somewhat masked the fact the Wanderers really should have won, especially with Alessandro Del Piero out.
A pleasing aspect of the performance was the Wanderers’ ability to put two goals in the back of the net during the first half. Against the Phoenix last week first half dominance yielded only one first half goal and left the opposition with thoughts of snatching a draw – finally their superiority was rewarded.
That superiority is a trait that extends through much of the Wanderers squad and into the coaching staff.
A result of that talent is a tendency toward instability as players and coaches consider their own career and whether they can leverage success into something more.
Already Tony Popovic – well-credentialed, with a successful playing career at the top level coupled with coaching experience with English team Crystal Palace – has been linked with a move back to his old club in the English Premier League where there is a managerial vacancy.
Shinji Ono, the architect of one goal and the scorer of the second on Saturday night, wants to parlay his good form into a contract extension just three rounds into the season.
The extremely dangerous, if slightly injury prone, Youssouf Hersi has also demanded a multi-year deal to keep him at the Wanderers.
Young players such as Tomi Juric, Mateo Poljak, Adam D’Apuzzo and Jerome Polenz will also benefit professionally by playing in such a successful team.
Club management needs to be proactive and identify a core to work from as the inevitable overseas moves, coaching changes and bigger contracts change the look of the team.
On the field, the immediate challenge is hosting Adelaide. The Wanderers can expect a possession oriented brand of football that will pose a bigger threat than Sydney FC.
The Mariners took three points against Adelaide on the weekend and showed the Wanderers the blueprint for doing the same.
A drawback of Adelaide’s short passing system is they don’t attack the goal often enough. A massive 66 per cent possession resulted in only seven shots on goal last weekend. The Wanderers will emulate the Mariners; keep the ball in front of the defence and draw Adelaide forward as a team so when the ball is turned over attempt to catch them short on the break.
Of course this is similar to the basic plan deployed by the Wanderers in many matches last year and will be familiar enough for them to execute expertly. Look for a Wanderers 1-0 victory at home this week.