Popa has to build a sustainable club from scratch that can win with attractive football. Not much to ask...
In the lead up to season 2012/13, we're looking at the club coaches, their history, their challenges and what they have to do to make this season a success.
Tony Popovic, Western Sydney Wanderers FC
After the initial flurry of attention, Tony Popovic must be happy that recent events have taken the spotlight off the Hyundai A-League-s newest club. But after such a rushed birth, the pressure remains to turn the Wanderers into an instant success.
That doesn-t mean anyone-s expecting silverware but Popovic has to work hard to capture the public attention, despite the club-s location within football-s heartland.
After other notable failures, FFA and the A-League need this club to stand on its own two feet, on and off the park. Players have only been signed to one-year contracts and Popovic has been frantically building a squad he believes can carry the team through their debut season.
Hopes are high, even if expectations are not. “Popa” has spoken about his desire to play a high-tempo, short-passing brand of football, and he-s recruited a savvy mix of proven local talent, interesting youngsters and untested imports.
Much now rests on his ability to mould that bunch into a competitive team, capable of playing attractive football and getting enough results to build the club-s support in the local area into a force that can ensure its long-term survival. Not much to ask...
History: One of Australia-s finest defenders, this is Popa-s first shot at head coach. Assistant stints at both Sydney FC and Crystal Palace have been promising and educational, but now he is the main man it will be interesting to see if he has the right stuff to be the man in charge.
Challenges: The challenges Popovic faces are endless; he has to mould a completely new squad into a formation he is happy with and have them play the style of football he wants them to with success.
Add to that he has to make sure the youngster pulling the midfield strings doesn-t get burnt out. Aaron Mooy isn-t a household name - yet, but early signs suggest he will be the Wanderers- creative driving force.
Popovic-s defence looks as strong as any A-League club with Nicolai Topor-Stanley, Ante Covic, Tarek Elrich and Michael Beauchamp, but responsibility for goals rests on Mark Bridge and Labinot Haliti - neither particularly prolific - and a number of lesser-known imports.
Target Position: Realistically it should be to avoid the wooden spoon; as a brand new club, anything better than last place could probably be considered a decent season. What-s more important is the potential for improvement.
Final Word: The Wanderers are already one of the stories of the season and they will be under intense scrutiny every week, as the media hunt for the next headline.
Popovic knows the pressure he-s under; FFA need him and the club to succeed, while the public just want to see the code grow successfully. If Popa delivers, he might just be hailed a hero. There-s too much on the line to contemplate what happens if he doesn-t.