Group chat was first hint players had of Popovic’s departure

New Wanderers coach Hayden Foxe

When the news of Tony Popovic’s shock departure from the Western Sydney Wanderers broke on Sunday afternoon, a players-only ‘group chat’ on the smartphone of young defensive midfielder Jacob Melling began to explode.

The group text involved a number of Wanderers players who were all baffled at the news that their head coach was leaving them seven days out from the start of the A-League season.

“There were a few different emojis being sent,” Melling told the Weekender.

“There were plenty of ‘thinking face’ emojis because we had no idea what was going on.

“At the end of the day it was his decision and I wish nothing but the best for Tony on his next adventure overseas in Turkey.”

While the departure of Popovic well and truly came out of the blue, the 22-year-old believes the Wanderers will move on just fine with interim head coach Hayden Foxe at the helm.

Tony Popovic is leaving the Wanderers

Along with some big name new signings including Oriol Riera, Alvaro Cejudy, Josh Risdon and the return of Mark Bridge, Melling said the Wanderers will be even stronger after this week’s events.

The Wanderers will battle Perth Glory in the opening round of the A-League season this Sunday evening at Spotless Stadium.

After playing just one game in the top grade last season, Melling is hopeful of getting some more game time this year.

“I’ve done everything I can this pre-season and I’m fit and ready to go.”

Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the Western Weekender’s award-winning sports journalist. Nathan is also the Weekender’s Deputy Editor.