Three of the best coaches in the A-League right now hail from Western Sydney, while the Wanderers lurch from crisis to crisis under a German who will almost certainly be sacked today.
The tweet came through around the 75th-minute mark of Western Sydney’s 1-0 defeat to Perth Glory last night.
According to ESPN, the Wanderers would relieve Babbel of his duties within 24 hours.
— ESPN Australia & NZ (@ESPNAusNZ) January 19, 2020
Many would argue it’s been a long time coming. After starting the season with three straight wins and a draw, the Wanderers have picked up just four points in ten games ever since.
And speculation has been rampant around Babbel’s future at the club after Sydney Morning Herald scribe Dom Bossi’s bombshell claim in mid-December that assistant coach Jean-Paul de Marigny was “white-anting” Babbel’s position from within.
Those who wanted Babbel’s reign to end look like they’ve got their wish, even if luck wasn’t exactly on their side on Sunday night.
They started dreadfully, with neither Dylan McGowan nor Patrick Ziegler covering themselves in glory after gifting the ball to Glory midfielder Jake Brimmer, who gleefully played in Bruno Fornaroli to score the opening goal.
However, the Wanderers looked like they’d scored an equaliser when Kwame Yeboah chested the ball home on 53 minutes, only for VAR to rule the goal out through handball.
It was one of those decisions that looked like it could have gone either way, with Babbel saying later on Fox Sports he believed it was “one hundred percent” a goal.
But those sorts of decisions have been going against the Wanderers all season and after just ten wins from 41 A-League games in charge, it finally looks like Babbel is out of a job.
Where to now for the club? The irony won’t be lost on anyone that it was Tony Popovic who masterminded yesterday’s defeat, while fellow hometown heroes Mark Rudan and Ufuk Talay both look bound for the finals in charge of rival clubs.
And it’s safe to say things haven’t gone to plan for Western Sydney ever since Popovic left the Wanderers less than a week before the 2017-18 campaign kicked off.
First Josep Gombau and now Babbel have tried and failed to stamp their authority on the Wanderers squad.
Gombau’s unsuccessful spell was largely dismissed as a product of Western Sydney’s unhappy stint in Homebush, but despite Babbel being given time to shape a squad of his own choosing, things have gone backwards under the former Bayern Munich defender.
You could hardly blame the club for bidding him ‘auf wiedersehen’.
This was supposed to be the season the Wanderers made a triumphant return to Parramatta.
Instead, schoolboy errors at the back and an inability to find the back of the net have slowly whittled away the Wanderers’ confidence.
The fans are staying away too. Watching the Wanderers rattle around in a brand new stadium that’s usually two-thirds empty makes for a depressing sight.
There’s no question the Wanderers need a reset, but is Jean-Paul de Marigny the right coach to lead it?
It’s a shame Babbel hasn’t worked out because as a character, he’s been a colourful addition to the A-League.
But like his compatriot Alex Meier before him, it’s surely time the Wanderers cut their losses.
Which is arguably how many of us are feeling about the current A-League season.
There hasn’t been a whole lot to shout about in recent weeks – although Kate Jacewiz deserves credit for her outstanding debut as the A-League’s first female head referee – with the league itself seemingly just going through the motions.
No one’s in charge, the social media blitz we were promised before Christmas seems to be yet another empty promise, and the Wanderers’ and Melbourne Victory’s struggles are undoubtedly hurting the metrics.
Not all of that is Markus Babbel’s fault. But after another insipid defeat, there appears to be only one course of action remaining.