‘Most toxic environment I’ve seen’: What We’re Talking About

The crisis at Western Sydney Wanderers has escalated over the weekend, with two former coaches taking to social media to add further heat to Carl Robinson’s regime.

Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Central Coast leaves them with one win from their opening five games, but perhaps more significantly, two from Robinson’s past 11 in charge, including elimination from the FFA Cup at the hands of APIA Leichhardt.

Despite being spoilt with attacking riches in his squad, the side look bereft of ideas or cohesion, something which the Welshman admitted he didn’t have the answers for.

“It’s a really, really good question,” he said when asked about their attacking woes.

“The answer is I’m not sure.”

Former A-League player and W-League Head Coach Dean Heffernan vented on social media on Sunday in response.

“I can tell you Carl,” he wrote.

“It’s because JT (CEO John Tsatsimas) and Gavin Costello (general manager of football operations) have created the most toxic environment I’ve seen in 20 years of football. Paul Lederer wouldn’t be aware of what goes on. How can 60-odd players and 4 coaches over 5 years be wrong. I rejected a 3rd year due to the above.”

Dean Heffernan.

He later continued: “It’s not the players. This has been happening for years now, most former players that walk in there say something’s not right here anymore. It [is] an energy and you feel it, and can smell it from the car park. It slowly seeps into you without even knowing. I was an empty shell in that place mate. It was a slow football death over 3 years of coaching. I’m happy in the corporate world now, where everyone works together to achieve goals.”

Heffernan’s comments were prompted by Patrick Zwaanswijk, who was relieved of his role as a senior assistant coach when Robinson arrived.

“I once coached for this proud and fantastic supported club and because of 2 of the most mentioned names in the comments I’m no longer there. Unfortunately no club identity beside amazing supporters. I wish you all the best and good luck with the season,” he wrote.

Their next assignment is on Sunday against Newcastle Jets.

On the other hand …

While the Wanderers lurch from week to week, copping criticism for a lack of a discernible style, the two league leaders are sides who are proving extremely difficult to beat.

Ante Milicic’s Macarthur and John Aloisi’s Western United are building the foundations of success this term on solidity, a clearly organised shape, good coaching and recruitment and a defensive resolve that others are finding hard to break down.

Both have cavalry to play a more eye catching brand of football but to set their campaigns up, Macarthur are yet to concede from open play, with just two goals against, while Aloisi has masterminded four consecutive 1-0 wins for his side. Friday night’s triumph over Adelaide is the first time the fledgling club have won four straight.

Box office Saturday night

Former Socceroos midfielder Oliver Bozanic read the script to perfection with his laser like free-kick at the death to perfectly celebrate his 100th A-Leagues outing for Central Coast Mariners.

The veteran, the toast of the Coast this week due to both his milestone, and the way he has returned to the club to fill the leadership role so essential in a team bursting with youthful exuberance, is having a fine campaign pulling the strings for Nick Montgomery’s side.

With the Wanderers’ woes highlighting the various tiers of sides in the competition at the moment, the Mariners are once again overachieving, while later in the night, we got a good glimpse at two outfits who will be there at the pointy end of the season.

If Tony Popovic’s side needed an early benchmark to gauge the club’s re-build, they got it on Saturday night in a match that reminds us of the very best this competition has to offer.

Covid chaos

As Perth’s players come to grips with the rough prospect that they’ll spend Christmas in quarantine, a new reality is starting to sink in across the competition – as it is with sport fixtures across the planet. COVID played havoc with Milicic and Arthur Papas’ preparations; Aloisi was juggling uncertainties all week, while Rhyan Grant was back on the bench for Sydney after his hiatus in isolation.

So it was surprising, to say the least, to see experienced Melbourne Victory defender Jason Davidson in the away end in the Melbourne Derby, having a great night out with the club’s fans.

As Victory icon Archie Thompson observed on Channel 10 – that was a brilliant experience he enjoyed himself once. But we’re now in a moment in time where the league is tiptoeing on a tightrope trying to avoid further cases compromising the fixture list.