Babbel: The vital ingredient to restore Wanderers glory
The winds of change have been sweeping through Western Sydney Wanderers as the club gears up for what looms as a vital Hyundai A-League 2019/20 Season.
With a magnificent new stadium to play their home games, a state-of-the-art training facility and an impressive squad, there’s a growing sense of optimism around the club.
While acknowledging all those factors are critical to sustained success, coach Markus Babbel remains cautious when talking up the Wanderers’ prospects.
Babbel’s trepidation has nothing to do with his own belief or the quality in his side, but a different element all together.
Something which separates the good teams from the very best.
And it’s a key trait he hopes his team can rediscover quickly as they head into an exciting new dawn in western Sydney.
“What we [The Wanderers] maybe have lost in the last years is the winning mentality. It’s what Sydney FC has, what Melbourne Victory has, what maybe Perth Glory has,” Babbel tells a-league.com.au.
“We have to bring this mentality back in this club and then I’m very optimistic in the future that the Wanderers will be one of the strongest teams in the league. I’m very optimistic about this.
“We want to have success here. But first we must build a good base and from there you can go forward.
“I won’t say our target is first. I played for Bayern Munich so for me [expecting to finish first] that’s normal, but here we have many young ones and they have never learned it, so they have to learn how it is to win, to handle pressure.
“We have to bring this culture to the club. We have to bring the culture back to the club from [the early years] where there was great success here.”
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To help fast-track that switch from mid-table battlers to title contenders, the Wanderers are buying into a new philosophy as they get ready for the new campaign.
It’s a mantra that might only consist of two words – ‘No excuses’ - but Babbel believes can have a profound effect on their future prospects.
“We can’t say ‘we don’t have a gym, the pitches aren’t good’ because everything is there now, everything is perfect. I don’t want to hear these excuses anymore, I want to know where is the solution, what can we do?,” the German explains.
“[The players] can’t tell me that [their] technique is bad because the pitch is bad, now it’s up to them, so work harder, do more, ask me if they want to do something extra.
“We have a fantastic coaching staff here so it’s in the players’ hands to do more. They can come to me and say ‘Markus, do you have 10 minutes to work with me on my first touch’? No problem, we do it.
“Don’t go the easy way, try to work hard, try to give 100% in every session and you will improve. And it’s not only us [the first-team] it’s the whole club, there’s no excuses anymore.”
With all the off-field blocks in place to help deliver the Wanderers success, Babbel set about overhauling his squad and recruiting players with a certain character.
While the club has unearthed some exciting young talent in the last couple of years, the ex-Liverpool and Bayern Munich defender needed to implant experience and quality around them.
In have come the likes of Pirmin Schwegler, Alex Meier, Daniel Georgievski, Daniel Lopar, Matthew Jurman and Dylan McGowan to add more steel to the side.
“We have more quality and we have a better team spirit. That is the biggest difference to last season,” Babbel declared.
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“We’re a really good team, working very focused on the pitch but also in between the guys there’s a good relationship there.
“Everyone knows there’s a challenge and they have to fight for their place but they are respectful to the others.
“Last season we had a lot of selfish players and the atmosphere in the team wasn’t good, but this is now totally different.
“The new ones that have come in have brought quality but also the ones that were there last year, especially the young ones, improved a lot so you can see the quality now at training is much better.
“That’s the reason why I’m so positive about the new season…the team spirit is so much better than last year. We’ll play a good season.”
And that season gets underway in just over a week, in the long-awaited return to their spiritual home, Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta.
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The Wanderers host Central Coast Mariners on Saturday, October 12 in a repeat of their first-ever Hyundai A-League match at the venue back in 2012.
“It’s going to make a big difference to be back home,” Babbel said.
“We had the experience with the Leeds game and it was a fantastic atmosphere. The boys gave 100% because the supporters were pushing them.
“With this atmosphere, if you are on the pitch you have to give 100%, it’s not possible to give 50%. It’s similar to Anfield.
“What I really hope I can see at the home games that this is the 12th man for us, pushing the boys to their limit.”
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