Heat’s on Babbel as Wanderers’ failings laid bare
Markus Babbel's head is on a red and black chopping bloc. Five straight losses, another poor performance, and another coach infuriating Wanderers fans.
Babbel reshuffled his side ahead of a must-win match in Perth, but once again left with his head hanging after going down 2-0.
The German began the season with optimism under the rallying cry of 'no excuses'. With 10 points from nine games, they have only themselves to blame.
His predecessor, Josep Gombau in his last nine games as Wanderers coach managed 11 points.
Babbel was entrusted with fixing Gombau's mistakes, but the same problems that plagued the Spaniard are causing the German nightmares.
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Gombau was at the helm of the Wanderers for 23 matches, winning seven games, drawing six and losing 10 with a win ratio of just 30 per cent.
Babbel underwent his period of adjustment and has now put together a squad to his liking. But 35 matches into his tenure and his win ratio falls even shorter at 25 per cent.
The Wanderers are winning once every four weeks under Babbel.
As the saying goes, attack wins you games but defence wins you titles. However, neither seem to be clicking in Western Sydney.
Babbel, like Gombau, has been able to put the ball in the back of the net.
Gombau struggled with a mix and match of attacking options averaging 1.3 goals per game during his season.
Babbel has averaged 1.4 goals per game in his time. The German coach struggled with Gombau's players but isn't achieving any better with players more to his liking. They've scored nine goals in nine matches.
One thing that can be credited to Babbel in pre-season was that it looked like he had built a squad from back to front.
His acquisition of A-League defenders like Mat Jurman and Dylan McGowan boded well for a strong campaign.
On paper he put together a team that looked strong, full of talent and the right mixture of experience, pace and power.
The Wanderers' opening three games were hard fought victories. Backs against the wall, brutal football where they ground out a result.
They won when they should have lost - the hallmark of a champion team.
But it's turned sour rather quickly. Gombau had a mentality problem with his side, taking the lead and failing to win eight matches in his campaign. Babbel suffered that fate six times in his first season.
Now it's the reverse. Babbel has scored first or dominated the first half, only to eventually lose or draw a match. They've conceded 10 of their 13 goals this season in the second half.
If the Wanderers continued on the trajectory they are on, a third of the way into the season, they would eclipse 30 points by the skin of their teeth.
Based on the last 10 seasons, it still wouldn't be enough for them to make the finals series.
Babbel's future as Wanderers coach is hanging by a thread.
"The next game is the most important game, it doesn't matter about what's happening in January," Babbel said after the loss to Perth.
"It's very hard because in the beginning we played not so well but got results, now we play much better style of football and can't get a result."
Would Wanderers fans prefer their team to play dirty and win rough? Or fight gallantly and fall short?
It's a results based business and if Gombau's results led to his axing, Babbel must beware that another wrong step could be fatal.