It’s still early in the season, but it’s not inconceivable that the heat will start to build on Babbel if there is not a significant improvement in not performances as well as results.
The Wanderers opened this campaign with three consecutive wins but did so without being wholly convincing. The momentum generated from that early run has now dissipated, with the team consistently struggling to maintain possession and conceding goals as a result of basic concentration lapses.
Babbel’s frustrations were clear for all to see with his expletive-laden press conference after the defeat to City, which could see him sanctioned by FFA along with defender Daniel Georgievski, who posted an Instagram story which labelled referee Chris Beath a “disgrace”.
Captain Mitchell Duke claimed Babbel “had a massive point” with his complaints about the penalty Beath awarded for an alleged foul by Pirmin Schwegler on Denis Genreau, and agreed that it completely changed the game.
“I still don’t really know the reason for it,” Duke said. “We didn’t have any kind of feeling they were going to score a goal up until that penalty decision.”
But Duke also admitted the Wanderers “slackened off” as a team in defence after the penalty and afforded the red-hot Jamie Maclaren far too much space.
“Conceding three goals in the second half, we had a look and it’s all about small details really, and playing out the full 45 minutes of the second half,” he said. “We definitely have to reset and refresh this week and make sure we go out and give everything against the Jets because we don’t want to lose three games in a row.”
The return of Jurman, arguably one of the best defenders in the A-League, can help make a difference in that regard, Duke believes.
“Our last two games, he’s not been there and we’ve conceded five goals. The two previous we had him, we had two clean sheets,” he said.
Duke still has faith that the Wanderers can contend for honours this season, pointing to their slick opening goal against City – a move he began with a beautiful diagonal ball to Bruce Kamau – as proof of what they are capable of when they have their tails up.
“We have that in our locker,” he said. “We do that at training all the time but when we’re under pressure sometimes we make the wrong decisions. We need to back our quality and hopefully we’ll do that sort of stuff more and more. If we play to our best ability we can take out any team in the league, but it’s up to us to do it.”
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.