Careful recruiting key to Wanderers success

Tony Popovic calls it simply finding players who are the right fit to be part of the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Tony Popovic calls it simply finding players who are the right fit to be part of the Western Sydney Wanderers.

When he sat down those few short months ago to assemble a squad for the birth of the new club, factors like age, experience and country of origin were never going to be the main concerns for the rookie coach.

But whatever method Popovic used to put his side together has certainly worked.

The Wanderers have impressed everyone over the first three months of the Hyundai A-League season with their combination of home-grown talent and an interesting mix of imports.

And it's the immediate success of the league newcomers that has re-ignited a hot topic of debate which has lingered ever since the competition kicked off more than seven years ago.

Just where is the best region to scour when looking for the best imports?

While Friday night's opponents Adelaide are thriving with their Latin contingent of Marcelo Carrusca, Jeronimo Neumann, Cassio and Fabio Ferreira, the Wanderers have taken a vastly different path.

A quick flick through their playing list shows a strong European flavour to their contingent of overseas talent.

Youssouf Hersi (Netherlands), Dino Kresinger (Croatia), Iacopo La Rocca (Italy), Jerome Polenz (Germany) and Mateo Poljak (Croatia) have all found a new home in Sydney's west and have been key components of their early success.

On the face of it, it would seem Popovic specifically went for players from European leagues to bolster his squad but the Wanderers boss is adamant that wasn't the case.

"We certainly didn't set out on a certain path in Europe, we were just looking for certain type of players," Popovic said ahead of the battle with the high-flying Reds at Parramatta Stadium on Friday night.

"We looked all over the world. We looked in South America which is an area enriched with talented players.

"But it doesn't always happen that those players are available that you are looking for, or they may be out of your budget.

"The players we found were certainly in our budget and we feel they fitted in with the structure we're trying to put together.

"Every coach just hopes the player settles in and adapts to the league and shows their full potential.

"Whether they're from Europe or South America... I think there's merit in both.

"Adelaide's shown their foreigners are doing well but I'd like to think our foreigners are showing their quality also."

While he may still be a relative novice as a head coach, Popovic seems to be thriving on the challenge of being able to call the shots and trying to establish the new club.

He has been around long enough and has enough experience of top-level football to know what works and what to look for when recruiting a player to help the Wanderers progress.

"Character's a very important part of players coming here," Popovic said.

"For some of the players it might be the first time out of their own country.

"Australia is a long way from Europe and South America and you need to be confident that they will settle to a new lifestyle, culture and language in some regards.

"It's difficult for players coming in. We're pleased with how our players have settled so far and we know there's a lot more to come from them.

"They can all still play better and we're hoping to see them as the season progresses."

While the club are still very much focused on this season and finishing off their strong start with a finals appearance, Popovic is already looking abroad to bolster his squad for the next campaign.

Searching for that right player, at the right time and crucially at the right price.

"If you can tick all those right boxes it wouldn't bother us where the player is from," Popovic said.

"We're open to all players around the world.

"It makes the search harder when you're looking everywhere but you've got to be open-minded... there's quality everywhere."