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Season Preview 2015/16: Western Sydney Wanderers

Coming off the high that was the Asian Champions League win, the Wanderers struggled mightily for form during the 2014/15 season. The clear indicator of their disastrous campaign was that it took until round 16 for them to register their first win.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that coach Tony Popovic has taken a vacuum, broom, leaf blower and any other cleaning implement available to him through the dressing room at Pirtek Stadium, with no less than 18 players shown the door during the off-season. ACL heroes Covic, Haliti, Poljak, Spiranovic and Juric have all departed, with a mix of new and familiar faces stepping in to take their places.

Scott Jamieson joins the club from Perth, while Scott Neville and Jacob Pepper — two of the shining lights in Newcastle’s poor last season — also make their way down to Western Sydney. Italian striker Federico Piovaccari joins as a new marquee player, as does experienced A-League midfielder and Socceroo Dario Vidosic, who was a welcome late addition to the squad.

2014/15 wash-up

Despite having the most losses of any team last season, 4 wins and 5 draws were enough to keep the Wanderers off the bottom of the table, with the Asian Champions managing to scrape into 9th place on the ladder.

52015/16 predictions

Our contributors and fans were asked for their ladder predictions going into the new season, and they’re predicting a big improvement for a revamped Wanderers squad, with an average ranking of 5.43 meaning that they sit in 5th place on our adjusted ladder.

Ins & Outs

In Out
Alberto Aguilar
Dimas Delgado
Scott Jamieson
Andreu Guerao Mayoral
Scott Neville
Mitch Nichols
Jacob Pepper
Federico Piovaccari
Andrew Redmayne
Dario Vidosic
Kerem Bulut
Ante Covic
Sam Gallaway
Antony Golec
Labinot Haliti
Tomi Juric
Nick Kalmar
Steve Kuzmanovski
Iacopo La Rocca
Adrian Madaschi
Yianni Perkatis
Mateo Poljak
Nikita Rukavytsya
Matthew Spiranovic
Yojiro Takahagi
Yusuke Tanaka
Jason Trifiro
Nick Ward

Fixtures

Split: 13 home, 14 away.
Round 1: Home vs Brisbane Roar.
Rivalries/derbies: Central Coast (1 home, 2 away), Newcastle Jets (1 home, 2 away), Sydney FC (1 home, 2 away).
Other Notes: A Christmas Eve home fixture against the Jets will no doubt elicit plenty of cheer (see what we did there?!), while a clash with Adelaide at Wanderland on New Year’s Day will be the perfect tonic to cancel out the previous night’s, well, tonic. Just 2 of the last 6 at home will prove a challenging conclusion to the season for Tony Popovic’s men, and with two home games on a Thursday night, the fans might be a little miffed about the allocations. The one positive though is that without Asian Champions League football to contend with, the players should have a more balanced and less hectic season in 2015/16.

Key Player

After the club conceded 44 goals in 27 games last season, Popovic will be hoping some of his new defensive additions will be able to tighten the team up down back. One key cog in the new-look Wanderers back four is Scott Jamieson, the 153-game veteran (if you can call him that at just 26 years old). Jamieson typically provides plenty of drive down the left wing, and his endeavour and hustle — two of the hallmarks of his game — will serve the Wanderers well this season.

One to watch

We saw enough of Jonathan Aspropotamitis last season to suggest he’s due for a breakout year with the Wanderers this time around. The sizeable central defender is just 19 years old, which is sometimes difficult to believe given his poise and tenacity to break down opposition attacking moves. The amount of game time he receives will largely depend on who Popovic opts for to partner Nikolai Topor-Stanley, with Aspropotamitis and Brendan Hamill seemingly the front-runners for the job.

Obscure trivia

As a combination of first and last name, Jonathan Aspropotamitis has the longest name of any A-League player in history – 22 letters. His potential defensive partner, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, holds down equal third position for name length.

About the author

avatarJustin is a passionate football fan, and the Editor-in-chief of Ultimate A-League.

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