WESTERN Sydney Wanderers are unfancied, unknown and undeterred as they prepare for their A-League debut against the Central Coast Mariners tonight.
They are not tipped to win anything more than hearts and minds in their first campaign but their captain, Michael Beauchamp, said the team believes it will be this season’s dark horse.
On the eve of their first foray into professional football, the Wanderers are the bookies favourites to finish bottom of the ladder, and long odds to reach the finals – despite last week’s arrival of Japanese star Shinji Ono.
Some claim they have already achieved their goals for the season by establishing a club and fielding A-League, W-League and youth teams only 186 days after being admitted into the competition. The lack of public pressure to achieve on-field results has eased preparations, but Beauchamp rejected suggestions his team will prop up the A-League.
”That’s fine, we’ll go about our business as we do,” he said. ”We’re ready for the games coming up and we’re definitely going to turn some heads.”
”We’re putting pressure on ourselves to do well and, in saying that, we’ve left no stone unturned and the boss has done everything right. We’re not here to make up the numbers, we’re here to perform, we’re here to be competitive every week.”
Tonight’s game will be the third time Beauchamp has been part of an inaugural A-League team, having played for the Mariners in season one before signing with Melbourne Heart’s debut squad two years ago.
The centre-back is familiar with being part of a team that isn’t as established as others, and see’s similarities between his role with the Wanderers and the Mariners eight years ago in helping develop a community club.
”It’s been a lot different [to the Heart] but compared to the Central Coast Mariners, it’s very similar,” Beauchamp said.
”[It’s about] going out there in the community, trying to do a lot of events and trying to get the interest of people in the local area, and that’s what we’ve done with the Wanderers.
”We’ve been going out, doing a lot of these activities, and it seems that it’s built up a bit of a hype around the club.”
Beauchamp was one of the first six players signed by the Wanderers three months ago, and was completing training sessions with barely enough players to run drills.
The near-empty car park at their training ground in Blacktown cast uncertainty over the squad’s make-up but that didn’t cause the former Sydney FC player to rethink his move out west.
”I don’t think I was worried at all,” Beauchamp said. ”I had a chat with the boss [coach Tony Popovic] and, after hearing what he had to say, I definitely believed that everything was going to be sorted. And true to his word, it has been, and everyone’s had a great pre-season.”
The players took part in a final training session yesterday before tonight’s A-League debut at Parramatta Stadium, and showed no sign of nerves as they prepared to take on last season’s minor premiers.
”I think we have nothing to fear, we have to go out there and enjoy the moment,” Beauchamp said.
Popovic is yet to announce his match-day squad, but he revealed a potential starting 11 during a training ground drill yesterday.
Popovic outlined a group of 11 players in one exercise, which would pair Beauchamp and Nikolai Topor-Stanley together at the heart of the defence with Mark Bridge supporting Dino Kresinger in attack and Ono making his debut from the bench.
Ono showed an impressive touch in the stifling 35-degree heat at Blacktown but may be eased into the first team after arriving in Australia only six days ago.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.