The Wanderers have been a breath of fresh air for the people in Sydney’s west. While the Penrith Panthers have their own battle brewing with the Greater Western Sydney AFL club, the Eels are preparing for a soccer ambush from a franchise still in its infancy.
Tony Popovic’s Wanderers are sitting pretty on top the A-League table. Never has soccer been in such a good place in the western suburbs of this mighty city.
This Saturday is the Eels first chance to impress the people. An acid test for new coach Ricky Stuart and his players. After a summer of goals, red and black supporters, yellow cards, and Japanese superstars, the people of Parramatta are hoping for the best but expecting the worst from the once mighty Eels.
And what is Parramatta’s plan of attack to wrestle back what they have lost in one short summer?
Well there really isn’t a plan of attack. The plan, if you can call it that, is to let Hayne and halfback Chris Sandow loose and hope for the best.
Stuart spoke of his new captain in his Sunday Telegraph column.
“It was an appointment we needed to make when Hindmarsh retired last year.
“We have good leaders here. Tim Mannah impressed from the start. A Parramatta junior, he is an inspirational type. Anyone that has seen how he has handled himself since the death of his brother, Jonny, would know that.
“Reni Maitua has found another level of professionalism. He has taken himself out of his comfort zone to fulfil his talent. He has confronted his problems, has stopped drinking, is now living out this way, none of which has been lost on his teammates.”
Will the pressure of expectation be too much for these men to handle?
Saturday night Parramatta host the New Zealand Warriors. A round one clash should see a monster crowd at Parramatta Stadium. But many will choose to stay home and watch on Fox Sports preferring to lob up the following day for a Wanderers clash with the Wellington Phoenix.
Parramatta will still get a good crowd. But could you believe only a few short months ago that they would lose fans to the Wanderers so early in 2013?
The Eels continued erosion has to stop. We as rugby league fans expect the Parramatta Eels to be thriving and winning games of footy.
The sleeping giant has awoken and its name is Western Sydney Wanderers.
It is time for the other giant to turn cruise control off and start performing. On and off the field.
Published on theroar.com.au