Tony Popovic says he is determined to keep his players hungry and on edge after dropping captain Michael Beauchamp in Friday night's 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart.
Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic says he is determined to keep his players hungry and on edge after dropping captain Michael Beauchamp in Friday night's 1-0 win over Melbourne Heart.
Scarily, Popovic said Beauchamp did nothing wrong to miss out on selection for their clash at AAMI Park, but that he wanted to blood club debutant Matthew Spiranovic in central defence.
"I felt for this match it was right to bring Matty in," Popovic said post-match after Nikolai Topor-Stanley donned the skipper's armband.
"It's got nothing to do with the way Michael's been playing, he's been outstanding for us.
"We've got a strong squad, there's competition for places every week and that was the call for this game."
The Wanderers boss even intimated Beauchamp was not a walk-up starter for their hosting of Melbourne Victory next Saturday night, with Popovic's team-first mantra loud and clear after their gutsy performance.
"I think as a group and as a squad, there's a lot of respect in the group, whether you're a starter, whether you're a squad player," Popovic said.
"When I say starter, I mean starter for that week.
"Everyone's fighting to be in there, but the players that aren't involved are equally a big part of this club, and Michael's a big part of this club.
"He hasn't played today, but he might play next week ... there's no-one that plays that is guaranteed a spot.
"I've always told my squad every player will play, when they will play I can't promise them that, but they will play."
Popovic's side went top of the league with 11 points from five games, but the former Australia international was not about to gaze lovingly at the table just yet.
"It's only five games in. Last year after five games, we probably scored one goal," he said.
"So we're not getting carried away, there's no-one getting carried away in that dressing room."
Wide forward Youssouf Hersi was withdrawn late in the week prior to their trip to Melbourne, and Popovic said the Dutchman was no guarantee to return for their hosting of the Victory.