Western Sydney Wanderers boss Markus Babbel pulled no punches in his assessment of his side’s 4-0 defeat at Melbourne Victory, insisting they “had too much fear” and that it was “men against boys”.
The Champions put on a clinic at Marvel Stadium, with goals from Keisuke Honda, Raul Baena, Kosta Barbarouses and Terry Antonis sealing a convincing triumph - the club’s fourth in succession.
Babbel was upset with the lack of fight from his players and, after speaking about the fear they showed, was asked when he noticed that.
“After one minute,” he said.
“Congratulations to Melbourne Victory, they deserved to win.
“In the first half, we were not existent on the pitch. We lost every challenge. We had too much fear for them.
“It was like a rabbit in front of a snake. We couldn’t handle this. 3-0 down - second half was a bit better but even then, it wasn’t really good.
“It’s sad because I think we had a good game plan and we were thinking a lot in the week, we were talking a lot to the players but this is what we have to learn.
“If we play teams like Melbourne Victory, Sydney FC, Perth, if we are not confident … you can lose against them, it’s not a problem but how you lose - this is, for me, important.
“Today it was men against boys. It wasn’t good for our side.”
Babbel urged his side to learn from the lesson dished out by Kevin Muscat’s men and called on them to produce a response when they host winless Central Coast Mariners on Friday.
“We have to learn from this game. If we go in with fear in the game, we have no chance,” he said.
“Today was a step backwards but that can happen because we have many, many young players in our team.
“Also the older guys didn’t play well today. Then it is difficult against a team like Melbourne Victory - they have so much individual class.
“You can fall down. Now we have to stand up and show the real face of what we can do … I hope we can learn quickly.”
Special praise for Antonis
Victory boss Kevin Muscat hailed Antonis afterwards, the midfielder now having scored three Hyundai A-League goals this season.
And he said his improvement came down to changes he has made to his physique.
“He has always been touted to have talent and be a talented footballer [but] if you look at him now, he just looks different in his physicality,” he said.
“His body shape and everything about his physical data is at a level now where it is elite.
“He’ll be the first to admit that the conditioning and the work that he has done with Anthony Crea [head of high performance] has helped him."
Muscat added: “I thought our movement tonight to retain possession and to hurt the opponent was exceptional.”