The Western Sydney Wanderers will be heading into season X with plenty of expectations.
The previous nine years have been a rollercoaster for any fan wearing Red and Black, but the last four have been spent at the bottom of the ride.
No finals for the A-League team, a number of coaching changes and significant player turnover has hurt a club that is one of the most popular in Australia.
The W-League team have only ever made the finals once in their nine seasons, and that was two years ago.
However, the fans have still shown the faith.
Last season, over 18,000 members still signed up and the Wanderers led the league for average crowds, with 8062 in the A-League.
These healthy numbers are a testament to the loyalty of the Wanderers fans but also to the engagement of the club’s marketing and membership department, who have always been outstanding in customer service and approachability.
With the Wanderers’ milestone tenth season approaching, the club has planned a number of initiatives to thank their loyal fans and re-engage the ones who have gone missing.
The club has promised to bring in new and innovative membership packages. Last season, they had one of the cheapest in the league in the family zone, and this is expected to continue into 2021-22.
The easiest thing to do to bring back fans, of course, is to win. It’s that simple.
The Wanderers’ fans have been spoiled for success. Three grand finals in the first four years, a Premiers Plate and, of course, the Asian Champions League title.
This all happened at the peak of the rollercoaster, and the fans now want more.
In Carl Robinson, the A-League team have a coach that is calm and collected in his thought process and knows what it takes to win.
Robinson has made it clear he knows who he wants in his dressing room. Throughout normal press conferences last season, he constantly spoke of the need for more vocal leaders.
He has backed his words up by going and signing Rhys Williams, Terry Antonis and Tomer Hemed. All three are experienced and have leadership qualities which Robinson will lean on next season.
The Wanderers actually scored the second highest number of goals (45) last season behind eventual runaway champions Melbourne City. With Hemed set to provide another avenue to goal, this part of the field looks even more promising for the Red and Black.
The defence is what needed tweaking and so far the club have signed former Newcastle Jets defender Johnny Koutroumbis. The club also have youth products Thomas Aquilina, Mark Natta and Daniel Wilmering, all of whom will be another year older and wiser.
There are more exciting signings yet to be announced, but the A-League team is taking shape and a more solid campaign is expected next season.
During the heydays of the A-League, the Wanderers would regularly bring in record crowds, not only for themselves, but for opponents as well.
It was not uncommon for Sydney derbies to regularly have 40-60,000 fans pack in.
A successful Wanderers A-League team, and what they bring to the competition, is important as we head into a new broadcasting era under Channel Ten and Paramount, who have promised to invest millions into growing the A-League.
The W-League team has a new coach in Catherine Cannuli. The former Matilda has been an assistant for three years now and is ready to take the next step.
Western Sydney may have missed the finals last season but they had arguably the most exciting young team in the competition. The likes of Sarah Hunter, Bryleeh Henry and Margaux Chauvet performed strongly.
While the club has not yet made public their signings, word from within the league is the Wanderers are determined to bring in quality and push for finals, and maybe even more.
In Cannuli, they have one of the best young coaches in the country and someone who connects well with players.
With women’s football thriving at the moment thanks to the Matildas, it is important that one of the W-League’s biggest clubs starts performing on the field.
The Wanderers had more Thursday night games last season than any other club, a testament to the TV audiences they bring.
Winning will see more fans actually attend games as well, and the colour and vibrance Wanderers fans bring to football is something the W-League would desperately love.
Membership renewals for the Wanderers will commence on 16 August, while new members can sign up from September.