Western Sydney Wanderers coach Carl Robinson is happy to be back on the training pitch and preparing for games of football after a COVID disrupted Christmas period.
The Welshman said that they have only had a full squad for training twice in the past two weeks as multiple COVID cases forced two of their recent games to be postponed, but he believes that the break may help the Wanderers jumpstart their season.
“We started decent and then we had two difficult games where we haven’t performed at our levels, and we own that, we have to admit that. But sometimes a break can do you good, we’ve got to use it as a positive, we’ve got 20 plus games to go and the next game is always the most important one, so that’s what we’re fully focused on.”
He may have hoped for an easier return that an away trip against current champions Melbourne City, but he is confident that his side can go toe-to-toe with City’s star-studded team.
“They’re a good team, they’ve got key players… obviously they won the league last year and deservedly so, they caught fire at the right time and play a really consistent brand of football that everyone talks about. It’s going to be very difficult for us, but we’ve got plenty of good players as well, we’ve got players that can hurt them.”
The Wanderers will be boosted, though, as Robinson confirmed that midfielders Jack Rodwell and Keanu Baccus have returned to full fitness and will be available for selection.
Whilst Robinson admits there has been particular focus on solving a misfiring attack, he says that the side needs to ensure they are resistant to threats on the counter attack, something that has plagued the team recently.
“We got ourselves into really good areas but our final product, final action, final pass wasn’t there. People say we don’t get enough bodies in the box, well that’s not true because statistically we do. We’ve had a lot of the ball, its the areas that we want to have the ball in, we want to increase those levels.
“But we’ve also got to make sure we don’t get caught in transition, because in the games we’ve lost, we’ve been caught with a sucker punch in transitions and good teams can’t do that and don’t do that.”
Robinson has also got more help in the dugout, with the experienced Gary van Egmond joining the side as an assistant coach.
“We’re delighted to have Gary in. Gary is good coaching on the field, he’s good coaching with the kids, he’s been involved in the international programs for many years, so he knows all of the talented players coming through and knows what they like and dislike. It’s nice to have another pair of hands to help us on the field and I certainly get on great with him at the moment.”
Robinson was also keen to highlight the relationship between himself and the Wanderers top brass, as the club’s culture becomes under increased scrutiny after allegations made by former staff members, and he says that the players, staff and supporters all need to stick together if the club is to emerge through this rough patch.
“I speak to Paul [Lederer] and JT [John Tsatsimas] on a regular basis, we have an open, really good communication and a strong relationship. I’ll continue to work hard with them, we all want the same thing, we’re no different to the supporters or the players. We want to win games of football, we want to reinvigorate the energy and the passion that we have here and that we’ve shown at times but not consistently enough.
“The only way you do that is by sticking together and working hard. If you don’t do that, eventually the end comes.”