Former players back under pressure WSW coach Gombau

No coach in the A-League seems to divide opinion as much as Josep Gombau, the embattled boss of the Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Spaniard put together the Adelaide United side which won the A-League championship for his countryman and former assistant Gui Amor after he left South Australia, eventually to become the Olyroos coach.

Gombau concentrated on a possession based game, never hiding his admiration for the style perfected at Barcelona, the giant Catalan club where he worked with junior players earlier in his career.

He arrived at Western Sydney in November with expectations set extraordinarily high, particularly for a club that had been in limbo for weeks following long serving coach Tony Popovic's walk-out just days before the kick off of the new campaign.

The reality has been a rude awakening as the Wanderers have stumbled and stuttered as they struggle to adjust to Gombau's new set up.

The nadir was reached with that horrific 5-0 loss to Sydney in the derby, with lurid tales of player revolts and huge arguments in the dressing room and behind the scenes. Several players are expected to look for new clubs when the January window opens.

A win over Central Coast, who had two players sent off, was a false dawn as the Wanderers crashed 4-0 to Newcastle last time out.

They now have to regroup for the visit of Melbourne City, themselves looking to rebound after two unlucky losses to Sydney and Melbourne Victory.

As is usually the case in these circumstances, the loudest voices heard tend to be those criticising the coach.

But several players who have been under his tutelage have sprung to his defence - including most recently City midfielder Osama Malik, who played for Gombau while he was in charge at Adelaide.

"On their day they (the Wanderers) are a great side, with great players. Gombau has proven himself one of the best coaches in the league. We know we have to be on our game to get a good result against them," says Malik.

"I was with him for two years in Adelaide. We had him in the pre-season for three months and going into that season there were a lot of people criticising him for the way he was trying to play.

" I think we won one game in the first ten rounds of the season, but after that I think we were playing some of the best football in the league, and he ended up as coach of the All Star team that year.

"He is someone that needs time, and if you give him time he can definitely work wonders.

"Its hard for him to work on things and tinker with too much when you are in the season and you are playing for points, especially when you are going into Sydney derbies where everyone expects you to do well.

"That's especially the case the way he plays, he doesn't really tinker from what he wants to do and what he likes to do.

"I have great respect for him and I like the fact that he wants to do what he wants to do, I am sure if he is given time he will be a good signing for them," says Malik.

Nonetheless, he and his City team-mates will be hoping to heap more pressure on his former boss on Monday.

City needs to regroup to retain its place close to the top of the table. Its ultimate aim is to qualify for the Asian Champions League, says Malik.

"Asia is not spoken about every day, but its a goal of ours, its something that we really want to strive to do, its a very prestigious competition and its something we want to be a part of. I played in it a couple of times and its an amazing tournament."

This story Former players back under pressure WSW coach Gombau first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.