WESTERN Sydney Wanderers recruit Rhys Williams is eager to help put an end to a disappointing era in Wanderland, stating a return to the Finals Series in 2021/22 is the bare minimum for a club "built for success".
The Wanderers won the Premiers Plate under Tony Popovic in the club's maiden foray into the league in 2012/13, falling to Central Coast Mariners 2-0 in the Grand Final that followed.
After bursting onto the scene at domestic level, the Red and Black secured the highly-coveted AFC Asian Champions League title the following season, venturing to a further two A-League Grand Finals in 2013/14 and 2015/16.
But since losing to Adelaide United in the 2015/16 title decider the Wanderers have failed to reach similar heights, finishing sixth the following season and going unsighted in the Finals Series through the following four campaigns.
Williams arrived at Western Sydney from Saudi Pro League side Al Qadisiyah FC in late July, and has since revelled in a testing five weeks of pre-season duties under Wanderers boss Carl Robinson.
An A-League Champion with Melbourne Victory in 2017/18, the central defender says achieving similar success in Red and Black in 2021/22 is the ultimate goal for a club he believes has underachieved for far too long.
"I don’t think finals is good enough," Williams said.
"For the size of the club, for the gaffer we have here, for the recruitment that’s been made for the boys to come in, I think we should be positive about what we can achieve.
"We’re five weeks in (to pre-season) and it’s been unbelievable, the standard in training, the togetherness of the team already has been amazing and it still shocks me we haven’t made finals for a few years.
I think this club should demand big expectations. The way it’s set up, the fanbase is unbelievable, the stadium - everything about this club is top-notch.
"We look to the future and we look up, I think that’s the expectations of this club."
Williams is one of seven key arrivals at the club this off-season to date, with former Wellington Phoenix spearhead Tomer Hemed joining Adama Traoré, Ramy Najjarine, Terry Antonis, Johnny Koutroumbis and Dimitri Petratos in committing to the club ahead of the upcoming season.
It's an impressive list of incomings which raises expectations for the club, and Williams is embracing the pressure that comes with being part of a squad targeting a surge up the table in 2021/22.
The Wanderers finished eighth last season, after ending the three campaigns prior in ninth, eighth and seventh position on the A-League table.
"From when I turned up, I never knew the facilities were like this, and it’s amazing," Williams said.
"I knew (it) was such a big club, but I didn’t realise probably how big they are until you come here and you see everything, you see the players they have here and the set up.
"It’s built for success, and hopefully that’s my job to help in that way this season."
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