Football 2 years ago

Popovic: 2014/15 hell was a blessing

  • Popovic: 2014/15 hell was a blessing

Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic believes his side are reaping the fruits of last summer's brutal schedule that instigated a reformation at the club.

Earlier this year the Wanderers played seven matches in 20 days, collapsing in a heap as they struggled to juggle an Asian Champions League defence and an A-League campaign.

In the end they failed to get out of the group stages in Asia and limped to a disappointing second-last finish in the domestic competition.

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Popovic, whose side currently lead the competition thanks to a seven-game winning streak, said part of their resurgence stems from the lessons taken from last year's pain.

"Last year we had in a six-month period, (it was) an education, if you're talking about myself as a coach, that maybe you don't get in maybe 4-5 years," he said ahead of Saturday's match against Perth.

"The amount of games, the amount of travel, the challenges that were put in front of us, it's a quick-fire education and I believe we've got a lot out of that."

The red-and-black were always going to improve in 2015-16 without the burden of the Asian Champions League on the calendar, but the 42-year-old Popovic said he had also matured as a manager.

Of utmost importance was the time needed to get his charges prepared for a match, a lead-in they eventually got in their final group match when they defeated eventual champions Guangzhou Evergrande.

"At the end of that tough campaign, we had a 10-day lead-in before we played Guangzhou and once we had that 10-day preparation, we played very well over there," he said.

"We realised that if we get a chance to put things right, an opportunity to prepare the way we can, we can match it with anyone. So I was full of confidence at the end of the season."

Still, Popovic saw a need to reconstruct both his playing roster and style, both of which is now in full throttle as they aim for an eighth straight win this weekend.

However, he stressed that the side hadn't won any silverware just yet.

"We're playing a certain style at the moment and it's reaping rewards. But we've won nothing yet," he said.

"We've got a long way to go and football changes quickly. You refer to Perth after two wins, how they're confident - a week's a long time in football.

"We go to Perth fully prepared expecting a really tough game and we have to be at our best."

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