Jerrad Tyson, Steven Lustica, Bruno Pinatares, Aritz Borda, Jumpei Kusukami, Robert Cornthwaite, Jack Clisby, Jacob Melling, Kerem Bulut, Nicolas Martinez, Emilio Martinez
Alberto, Andreu, Romeo Castelen, Golgol Mebrahtu, Federico Piovaccari, Matt Sim, Liam Reddy, Josh Macdonald, Mark Bridge, Shayne D’Cunha, Alusine Fofanah, Daniel Alessi, Dario Vidosic, Jacob Pepper, Scott Jamieson
Having finished in their third Grand Final in four years last campaign the Wanderers kick-started their pre-season with a 2-1 win over A-League rivals Brisbane Roar before beating Canberra FC 4-1. A tour of Japan proved successful for the Red and Black who registered 3-1 and 3-0 wins over Japanese outfits Kokushikan University and JEF Chiba respectively. Tony Popovic’s side were beaten 2-0 by Newcastle Jets in their final pre-season hit out.
Meanwhile, the Wanderers were dumped out of the FFA Cup quarter finals at the quarter final stage for the second year running following a 4-1 drubbing by Melbourne City. Previously, the side had come back from two goals down to overcome Wellington in Penrith before easily accounting for Northern NSW NPL outfit Edgeworth Eagles 5-1.
Unfortunately for fantasy managers the on-field triumphs of Western Sydney since their 2012 inception hasn’t necessarily translated into Fantasy success. This should be the case again in 2016/17, where another huge turnover in playing staff, Popovic’s frequent squad rotation and the case of Asian Champions League football at the back end of the season means investing heavily in the Wanderers is likely to result in frustration.
Although Popovic’s side came out of their shell Fantasy-wise in 2015/16, which saw the Wanderers boss marry his team’s traditional organisational and defensive strengths with a more progressive and nuanced style of football, building a Fantasy side around the 2014 Asian Champions at this stage seems folly given the hefty influx of new players and lingering question marks over the defence.
Following the departures of Andreu, Alberto, Castelen and Bridge the Wanderers have lost not only the hugely important members of the first team but the only immediately viable Fantasy options available to managers. Proceed with caution.
Sydney FC (home), Adelaide United (away), Newcastle Jets (home)
Predicted Round 1 Side
Neville Borda Hamill Clisby
Kusukami Nichols Martinez
Despite the question marks surrounding Popovic’s best eleven managers should give strong consideration to the returning Kerem Bulut ($190k), who scored five times in nine appearances in his short 2015 cameo. The fan favourite will look to make the number nine jersey his own after a string of poor candidates in Red and Black and if the Auburn boy can nail down a permanent spot in the starting eleven he is destined to finish as one of the Wanderers top scorers.
Since arriving from Newcastle in 2015/16 Scott Neville ($180k) has developed into one of the A-Leagues finest fullbacks. The former Glory man is the only member of the Wanderers defence guaranteed a starting position and if he can further improve his final ball he should pick up a few assists across the course of the season. Neville has also scored twice for Western Sydney in pre-season.
Mitch Nichols ($300k) should continue to be a big player for the Wanderers this season but could be set for an underwhelming campaign following the highs of 2015/16. The arrival of Nicolas Martines ($280k) could cast a shadow of doubt over Nichols’ role as the most advanced midfielder in the Wanderers system and as a result of his lucrative price there are far better premium midfield candidates available.
LEAGUE: Don’t forget to join the SuperCoachHQ.com league on aleaguefantasy.foxsports.com.au – the league code is 117-325.