Working hard and doing it with a smile. It might seem like a trivial thing but for Markus Babbel it’s a sure sign his Western Sydney Wanderers are on the right track.
The German boss is heading into his second season at the helm of the Wanderers and the biggest in the club’s history.
After two seasons without finals football, the heat is on for success to return to the club that made three grand finals in their first four seasons in the Hyundai A-League.
There’s plenty of reasons for optimism at ‘Wanderland’, with Babbel recruiting astutely as well as the side’s return to their spiritual home at Parramatta – the new Bankwest Stadium.
But there’s another factor why the 46-year-old believes the good times are about to return to the Wanderers.
“The biggest difference to last season is the team spirit,” Babbel told reporters on Monday.
“There is a different atmosphere in the team, there’s a great enjoyment to work there but also a good enjoyment to have a laugh.
“It’s a good mix but for me it’s important that I see if we do something on the training ground the boys try and do it to 100% but also with a smile on the face and I think that’s the biggest difference to last season.”
Another thing Babbel would like to change from 2018/19 is the amount of silverware the club adds to the trophy cabinet.
The Wanderers finished eighth and a lengthy 16 points outside the Hyundai A-League finals spots last campaign.
While they did manage to make the semi finals of the FFA Cup in 2018, it ended in the disappointment of a 3-0 loss to bitter crosstown rivals Sydney FC.
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It’s another local derby for the Wanderers in the Cup on Wednesday night, as they head to Campbelltown Stadium for a Round of 16 clash with NSW NPL Grand Finalists Sydney United 58.
“If you’re not focused, if you don’t concentrate, if you think it’s an easy game then there’s a massive chance Sydney United will hurt us,” Babbel said of the all-western Sydney match-up.
“But if we concentrate, if we put our energy and focus in the right spot then I’m optimistic we’ll beat them because we have the quality for this.
“But we have to know they are a good side. I think from all the NPL teams, it’s the strongest team we can play and it’s a derby. I really try to bring this focus in the team. You have to give 100% then you will beat them, if not it will be a tough game.”
Wanderers defender Dylan McGowan, who was appointed club vice-captain on Sunday, said there was a big focus within the squad to have success in the FFA Cup.
“It’s a big chance for us to go through to the next round and this is a trophy the club has never won so that’s on everyone’s mind,” said McGowan, who is deputy to new skipper Mitch Duke.
“We don’t enter competitions not to win them, we’re too big a club to do that. For us it’s about getting through this round, being as professional as we can and putting on a performance for our fans.
“They are a very good outfit. We won’t underestimate them.
“We dealt with an underdog tag in Perth considering the season they had the year prior and we dealt with that fine but this week’s a different beast. We’re going in as favourites and we have to show up again.”