Okay. So let me get this straight.
Since the departure of Tony Popovic, the Western Sydney Wanderers have not threatened for an A-League championship.
In actual fact, things have slowly worsened year by year since the new manager of Greek club Xanthi FC departed Western Sydney in October of 2017.
Their seventh-placed finish in 2017-18 was followed by an eighth-placed result in the following campaign and in the COVID-19 affected 2019-20 season, the Wanderers slumped to a lowly ninth on the ladder, topping just the dismal Victory and ever-battling Mariners.
When Markus Babbel was sacked by the Wanderers board in late January 2020, assistant coach Jean-Paul de Marigny was charged with taking the reins. The early signs were not disappointing.
As something of an aggressive motivator and passionate cheerleader for his team, de Marigny managed to achieve three wins and three losses following the departure of Babbel, before the powers at be in Western Sydney saw reason to re-sign him for a further two seasons as the club entered the reconvened and COVID interrupted season.
From the final five games, de Marigny managed to produce a further two wins, despite the team failing to elevate themselves into finals’ contention. All seemed somewhat promising for the coach, club and squad considering the bizarre nature of 2020.
There were to be some significant off season losses in personnel for the men in red and black, with Swiss Pirmin Schwegler retiring after a creditable career and the injured Radoslaw Majewski also departing.
However, the late season promise that had been shown appeared likely to give the coach and his players much hope as they entered pre-season training for the 2020-21 season slated to begin in the upcoming festive period.
For those of us aligning to that way of thinking, how silly do we now look? On Monday, the Wanderers moved on their newly appointed coach, astonishingly sacking him with the season drawing ever closer.
The public received a brief, 42-word statement outlining the decision they had made. It read:
“Western Sydney Wanderers FC have today parted ways with head coach Jean-Paul de Marigny. The club thanks Jean-Paul for his efforts and wishes him success in the future. The club will make an announcement in the coming days on a replacement coach.”
Yeesh! Thanks for coming Jean-Paul. Three days out from the players resuming training for the upcoming season and after a final third to 2019-20 that was far more promising than the first two, de Marigny is out the door?
I smell a rat.
Contacting Wanderers’ fans on social media late Monday, their sentiment was one of confusion. The decision appeared to have come from nowhere and at the most inopportune time for a club desperately seeking stability.
In all likelihood, Western Sydney have either found a far more qualified and effective manager ready to start work ASAP, or there is something far more adversarial about the decision they have made.
Should there be a big name about to take the helm in Parramatta, I guess the move is understandable. However, such a coup is unlikely to have been planned and executed in the short space of time available since the decision was made to permanently appoint de Marigny in July.
More likely are rumours of a falling out between the manager and others members of the Wanderers’ brand.
There are whispers of de Marigny’s disappointment at the pool of money available to him for short-term recruitment and suggestions that his frustration around that issue has driven something of a communication wedge between he and his employer.
That seems probable, with Western Sydney having currently signed no player of significance for the new season. The losses of the two previously mentioned foreign players along with the departure of Mitchell Duke to Saudi Arabia and Matthew Jurman to Greece further deepen the need for greater investment in the current squad.
All in all, it is the oddest of timing and to tweak a phrase from one on the best, something really does smell rotten in the state of Western Sydney.
Already the rumours of a John Aloisi return to senior A-League management are abound. If Western Sydney do go down that road the results had better be brisk in arriving.
Should they not, the fans would well be within their rights to wonder if the manager they already had was actually up to the task.