Wanderers determined to make 2015/16 a success

Wanderers CEO John Tsatsimas
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Western Weekender journalist Nathan Taylor speaks with Western Sydney Wanderers boss John Tsatsimas as the club prepares for another A-League season…

Now that the dust has well and truly settled, how will you look back on the recent 2014/15 A-League season?

What we achieved in the Champions League last year came at a cost. The A-League season did not live up to our expectations or our fans’ – however there were reasons for that, the physical demands exacted an enormous toll from our playing group. We are in the process of getting a squad together now that will once again challenge for honours this season and we are very confident in the approach we are taking. We are not in a rebuilding phase, we will rebuild this pre-season and be ready to challenge this season.

The club made the decision to move on many players during the conclusion of last season. Did finishing in second last place contribute to many of those players’ departures?

There has been a mix of reasons for these changes. What is true is that due to injuries and the schedule of last season we had to bring in a number of players on short term and injury replacement contracts. With a squad limit of 23 players we had to make some tough decisions. We have re-signed some of our most promising young players and kept a core of the squad from last season, who we believe will be instrumental in our ascendancy this season.

The club has already made a number of signings for the upcoming season, how will those new players put the Wanderers in a better position to contend next year?

We’ve identified areas on the park we needed to address and have brought in some very capable players to those positions. Scott Jamieson is a western Sydney boy through and through, so it is great to have him playing for his home town club. Along with Jamieson we have brought in Scott Neville, Andreu, and Mitch Nichols who all have excellent pedigree and we have the utmost confidence that they will bring something extra to the team.

A major marquee signing was just recently announced, what was your thought process in signing Italian striker Federico Piovaccari?

As we have maintained, it is about getting the right man not the right name. Our priority was to sign someone that will give us a cutting edge. Someone that will fit the dynamic of the team and the culture of the club. In Piovaccari I believe we have done this and I am very excited about the season ahead.

The 2015/16 A-League draw was released recently. How much of a say does the club have on the draw and were you happy with the outcome?

The club has initial input into some areas of the draw but this is largely a Football Federation Australia driven process. In saying that, we are very happy with the draw and look forward to a successful season. Wanderland will be in full swing and with the support of our loyal fans we will be contenders this season.

Passionate Wanderers fans
Passionate Wanderers fans

The Wanderers game played at Penrith earlier this year was a huge success. Is there a plan in place to play more games at Pepper Stadium in future seasons?

Our FFA Cup match will be played at Pepper Stadium on August 11 which will be a massive match for the club. The Wanderers have a huge supporter base in the Nepean region stretching up to the Blue Mountains and beyond. While Wanderland remains our home in Parramatta, hosting matches in Penrith is something we are keen to continue as a commitment to the region.

Do you think the Wanderers achieved success too fast, now expectations are high each year for a relatively new club?

It has been a rapid rise for the club without a doubt, but that success has set a benchmark we don’t ever want to let slip. Every effort from the administration to the football staff and team is being made to ensure we remain a contender every season. We want to earn our way back into the Champions League, we want to be at the top of A-League every season and we want success in everything we do as a club. Our mission is to be a globally recognised and respected football club, and this will only be achieved with success on and off the field.

The club is known for its passionate fan base, but there’s been problems in the past. How does the club’s relationship with the fan base currently sit?

Having passionate fans is a blessing, not a curse. We have arguably the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in Australian sport, so there is a lot of expectation. Let’s not pull any punches here – the last A-League season did not live up to our expectations and we are doing everything in our power to ensure that this season takes us back to the top of the A-League and back into Asia.

Does the A-League need to look at the structure of the competition given the impact other tournaments like the ACL can have on successful A-League teams?

I think in a way we were the monkey shot into space on this schedule. Could we have been assisted with more centralised support? We believe so. However this season it looks like teams have been better accommodated for the potential of one of them going all the way in the ACL. It is not easy with our season window but even small compromises can be a huge help.

Is there any exciting or interesting upcoming plans or concepts you can reveal to Wanderers fans?

Let’s just say this, planning is well underway to make this season bigger and better than ever.

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