Popovic: ‘Wanderers can still win the grand final’

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic says he’s not given up on this season, and with ten games to go he believes his side can still win the grand final.

In an expansive interview with Fox Sports News on Monday night, Popovic, a former AFC coach of the year, answered a myriad of questions about his team’s faltering fortunes this season and the club's transfer policy. 

Popovic denied he’d take the Wanderers – currently in eighth spot in the Hyundai A-League, two points off a spot in the six and with an ACL campaign ahead - as far as he could.

“No. Certainly not,” he told Fox Sports' former EPL great Mark Bosnich and former Wanderers star Ante Covic. 

“For me [this season] is far from gone… we have ten games to go and I believe we can still win the grand final.

“I believe everything is still possible for us this season.”

Popovic suggested the club's fans’ expectations had grown over the last few years as the club became more successful in Asia and domestically.

“The fans in the first couple of years probably had hope.

“But the football department from year one we had expectations of winning trophies.

Wanderers fans in unison. ‘Who do we sing for?’

“Now the fans have joined us with that expectation.

“At the moment they’re frustrated and we’re as frustrated as they are,” he said.

One big area of concern for many fans of the red and black is the quality of their signings.

The turnover at the Wanderers in recent seasons has been huge with 63 players coming and going since Wanderers won the Asian Champions League in 2014.

“We made a decision after we won the Champions League to change 18 players. 

"That was a decision made based on the philosophy of the club in terms of how we want to play and in terms of longevity we believe we can have success over a period of time," Popovic noted. 

“That was a conscious decision and we certainly don’t regret that.

“And the fans certainly were happy with those 18 changes [after the team made the grand final last season].

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“This year there have been changes but the changes are different this time.

“A lot of the changes this year – and I’ve said this publicly – is due to not being able to afford a player.

“A couple of foreign players that we tried to keep. Salary cap constraints don’t allow you to go as high as you’d like to keep those players.

“And then you have legends of the club [Mark Bridge and Nikolai Topor-Stanley] that as a reward you should help them go.

“So a little bit different this year in terms of the changes but ultimately we are judged on results.”

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Popovic explained it is a joint decision between the football department and club owners on signings.

“We all have financial constraints. It’s a business and we all [the football department] have to respect that.

“And we have to respect the decisions of the owners whether we can or can’t bring in players.”

He added: “At the moment we’re in a position that we’re not happy with but certainly not one that we’re panicking about.

“And I still believe we’ll win the grand final.”