Isuzu UTE A-League season preview: Western Sydney Wanderers

Enjoy KEEPUP’s season countdown with our club-by-club previews. Scroll down to the foot of the page to access your club’s article.

April 21, 2017: the last time Western Sydney Wanderers featured in an Isuzu UTE A-League Finals Series fixture.

In the second season of head coach Carl Robinson’s reign, and after a flourish of impressive off-season signings, pressure is building for the red and black to put an end to the post-season absence with haste.

But the aspirations don’t stop there. With this coach and this squad, the Wanderers will aim their charge toward the very top of the table this season. 

Major ins: Jack Rodwell, Tomer Hemed, Dimitri Petratos, Rhys Williams, Tomás Mejías, Ramy Najjarine

Major outs: Graham Dorrans, Bruce Kamau, Jordon Mutch, Dylan McGowan

Head coach: Carl Robinson

A-Leagues coaching record: 35 games, 14 wins, 10 losses, 11 draws

The Welshman’s tenure enters its second season in 2021/22, and expectations will be high. Those expectations will come from the players, fans and club staff, but also from within. 

The Wanderers went big in the off-season strengthening across the board. If Robinson can find the perfect balance in a starting lineup often criticised for lacking exactly that throughout the 2020/21 season, then the red and black could surge into the top six and contend silverware after finishing a disappointing eighth last time out.

Wanderers boss Carl Robinson has pressure on his shoulders to guide his side back into the top six

Can’t take your eyes off: Dimitri Petratos

When Dimitri Petratos is around, you’re likely to see goals selected by and large from the top drawer. 

On loan from Saudi Arabian side Al-Wehda, where he scored 10 goals in 28 games last season, the 28-year-old fringe Socceroo possesses the necessary qualities to knit Western Sydney’s midfield and attack together by adding goals and assists from dangerous areas, whether that be out wide or in behind the striker.

Petratos has 203 Isuzu UTE A-League appearances to his name, from which he’s netted 42 goals.

Petratos trains ahead of Western Sydney’s Round 1 clash with Sydney FC on Saturday, November 20

Reasons: to be cheerful

The collective calibre of Robinson’s off-season recruits will have Wanderers fans excited for what’s to come. Rhys Williams will captain the team whilst leading the defensive line, Tomás Mejías brings his immense experience to the squad and gives healthy competition to Daniel Margush, and Tomer Hemed arrives to lead the attack having scored 11 goals in 21 games for Wellington Phoenix last season.

Petratos and Ramy Najjarine bring creativity, flair and spark to the Wanderers attack, and the likes of Terry Antonis and Adama Traore bring a wealth of knowledge accrued through many years operating in the league. 

Make no mistake about it, head coach Robinson has all the tools at his disposal to make this season a memorable one in Wanderland. 

… and reasons to be fearful

In Bruce Kamau, Mitchell Duke and Graham Dorrans, the Wanderers lose their three top-scorers from 2020/21. Kamau was a revelation last season, leading the club’s scoring charts and winning the club’s Player of the Year honours at season’s end. 

Kamau (nine goals) departed for OFI Crete, Duke (six goals) joined J2 League team Fagiano Okayama and Dorrans (four goals) returned to his home country to play for Scottish Championship side Dunfermline Athletic. Robinson has recruited the necessary firepower to replace his three top-scorers, but bedding in an entirely new frontline is no easy task for any coach, let alone the players themselves, at the beginning of a new campaign.

Bruce Kamau’s departure leaves Robinson in need of a new top scorer in 2021/22

Fan’s Eye – by Chris Hughes

Why we believe: I love this club because it represents where I grew up and live. Proud Westies are hard working, tough people which is what this club was founded on and achieved its early success by. To be able to follow your hometown club so passionately is something that many football fans dream of but can’t always do. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to follow WSW the way I do. I’ve experienced some of the greatest moments of my life with my best mates at WSW games and on numerous away trips.

Who we believe: Past player: Shinji Ono was the little master. Watching him work his magic was a privilege and I will never forget his goal in the semi against Brisbane. One of the best we’ve seen in the A-League.

Current player: Keanu Baccus – to see a local become a prominent player in their hometown club and then represent the nation is something every fan loves.

The magic of match day is… heading into Parramatta and seeing thousands of people in red and black. Spending time with mates at the pub and then gathering as one to head to the stadium on the march, watching people admire the way we do it. Nothing beats the feeling of heading through the gates and filling the terrace, particularly on an away day. Being known for our relentless support is something that makes WSW fans proud. 

If I could change one thing about my club… There isn’t a lot I would want to change but I would love to finally win a toilet seat. I’ve been there through the disappointment of three grand final losses so to win one would be very special.


By Tom Smithies and Matt Comito

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Central Coast Mariners: A renaissance or brief ray of sunshine?

Macarthur FC: Attack looks great, but who replaces the veterans?

Melbourne City: Can anyone stop the champions?

Melbourne Victory: Can Popa resurrect the fallen giant?

Newcastle Jets: Can Papas find success with another overhaul?

Perth Glory: Are box office Glory title contenders?

Sydney FC: A familiar feel in Sky Blue – do they have another gear?

Wellington Phoenix: Can the ‘Nix thrive early doors based in Wollongong?

Western Sydney Wanderers: Will Robinson rise to expectations?

Western United: Will more ‘Dia’ magic help United bounce back?