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Seventh heaven: Who will coach the Wanderers' women next?

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Roar Guru
28th April, 2022
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With the Wanderers’ women parting with their sixth coach in ten seasons, the question now is who will the battling club turn to next?

Maybe coach number seven will bring the luck the club desperately needs.

One thing is for sure, the fans are demanding answers. And this time, they want the right answer.

One finals series in ten seasons is not acceptable for a club that should be a powerhouse in women’s football and should be driving the growth of the game down under.

As women’s football gets more popular, fans of A-Leagues clubs are now taking their women’s teams more seriously. This means they want wins, finals and titles.

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And so they should. This is elite level football. This is women’s football. It has to be given the respect it deserves.

Fans need to be given a team that can succeed. They need a coach who will attract the best.

Players deserve a coach that is going to bring the best out in them. Players deserve a coach that will turn them into contenders, and a coach that will help them become Matildas.

Cath Cannuli is a Wanderers icon. She was there from day dot. She was credited with creating a good culture. Sadly she won’t be there going forward to build on that.

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Results are the by-product of focusing on things that matter like people, culture and long-term goals. This is something that Australian football perhaps has struggled with for a while.

Culture is the key to any success. This essentially comes down to the people involved. Their values, beliefs, and how they want to achieve success.

Clare Hunt

(Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

The next Wanderers coach will need to build, develop and embed a positive culture that will breed a club that will produce results going forward on the park, and quality people off it.

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They need to build people who will go to other clubs and create that same vibe. They need to build players that will represent national teams with distinction on the world stage.

So the question for the Wanderers is who can achieve this?

Tom Sermanni, a coach that has had tremendous success on the global stage, was given the role of head of women’s football at Wanderland.

Along with the new CEO, whoever it may be, he will be charged with the responsibility of finding a coach that is going to bring long-term success to a club that has failed time and time again on and off the park.

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There are a few names that stand out when it comes to new coaches who will attract the right balance of experience and potential.

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Wanderers are looking for someone who will create an environment where everyone flourishes, where young players can get mentorship from the older ones, and where older ones can learn new tricks from the younger crew. 

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They want a coach who can blend everyone together to chase one common goal and a coach that will have players who are ready to run through brick walls for the team.

Leah Blayney is the obvious candidate. It is understood a number of clubs have been pursuing her hard this off-season. Blayney is the current Young Matildas coach and is in charge of the highly acclaimed Future Matildas program.

She has the best young kids in the country playing for her. By all accounts, players love being under her.

The best young players this season in the A-League Women – those winning contracts overseas and those knocking on the door of Matildas selection or who are already there – have come through Blayney’s tutelage.

The likes of Mary Fowler, Courtney Nevin, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Cortnee Vine, Jess Nash, Bryleeh Henry, Charli Rule, Jamilla Rankin, Remy Siemsen, Wini Heatley, Holly McNamara and Sarah Hunter have all been part of the Future Matildas or Young Matildas set-up at some point.

Bryleeh Henry of Western Sydney

(Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Up-and-comers like Hannah Jones, Daniela Galic, Jyana Dos Santos, Kahli Johnson and Naomi Chinnama are also ones to watch in the coming years.

Blayney will likely have a significant influence on where some of these players end up.

When it comes to older and experienced players, Blayney’s excellent reputation in football will undoubtedly help lure them to Wanderland.

Being able to gel the older ones with the youngster ones is where the positive culture comes in. Blayney has done that at youth level, and her experience as a school teacher will hold her in good stead with this.

Whether the Wanderers could entice her to come across will be interesting. For now, she will likely have her focus on other things, namely the U-20 World Cup in Costa Rica in August.

Jake Goodship is another coach that will surely come into calculation. He was credited with creating a strong culture at Brisbane Roar in 2020-21, when they finished second.

Goodship has worked closely with the likes of Rankin and Heatley at Brisbane. He also has a good rapport with experienced players across the league including Katrina Gorry and Clare Polkinghorne.

He will undoubtedly be able to replicate what he had at Brisbane at Wanderland.

Vicki Linton is another coach who is out of a coaching job at the moment, though she is joining the NSW Institute of Sport as a high performance manager.

She left Canberra United this season after a disappointing campaign. But her track record overall is good. She took Canberra to the finals in 2020-21. She had success at Melbourne Victory from 2010-12 when she became the first coach to take them to the finals.

Linton is experienced in Australia and overseas. She has worked in the highly successful US national system. She was a technical advisor for the US Soccer Federation for three years. She was also a Young Matildas and Junior Matildas coach for six years and has been an assistant for the Matildas.

Linton had Canberra playing good football towards the end of this season.

It is understood she has a few excellent job opportunities in Sydney. Whether that extends to Wanderland, only time will tell.

She has a strong relationship with Sermanni, which would undoubtedly help her case.

When it comes to other candidates, the Wanderers will no doubt have numerous coaches who will put their hand up. But it is expected the club will head hunt who they want.

Alexia Apostolakis

(Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Arsenal assistant coach Aaron D’Antino is one that should be closely looked at. He has worked under W-League championship-winning coach Joe Montemurro at the Gunners and has been part of a successful team there.

He has also been part of a successful culture at Melbourne Victory when they won A-League Men championships.

Italian legend Carolina Morace is someone who has close ties to Australian football. Her wife Nicola Williams is Australian and Morace has lived in Perth before. She came close to securing the Matildas’ gig in 2020, before being pipped by Tony Gustavsson.

She has worked in a number of countries and takes a no-nonsense approach.

Morace loves a project. There aren’t many bigger ones in Australian football than fixing the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Belinda Wilson won a premiership at Brisbane Roar and regularly made the finals. She has worked internationally for Guam. She has a role at FIFA as a senior technical development manager of women’s football. Her experience cannot be questioned.

Alex Epakis is in Perth right now but is from Sydney and a good offer to come home could lure him to Wanderland.

There are a number of options available and only time will tell who is next in line for the hot seat at Wanderland.

Whoever it is, they will have a whole club to rebuild.

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