Babbel sacked after Wanderers crisis talks
Western Sydney Wanderers have sacked coach Markus Babbel after the entire coaching staff were summoned to the club's training ground for an emergency meeting on Monday morning.
With the players absent on a day off in the wake of Sunday night's 1-0 defeat to Perth, the Wanderers' patience with Babbel has run out and the German was dismissed midway through his three-year contract.
In a statement, Wanderers chairman Paul Lederer said "It is unfortunate that we have needed to take this course of action because we have a great relationship with Markus.
"However we firmly believe that we have a great squad and the results are most definitely not reflective of the ability of the players at this club and certainly do not reflect the aspirations of the Western Sydney Wanderers Football Club.
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"We have total faith in the group of players here at the Wanderers and look forward to pushing on with renewed vigour towards the finals series."
Jean Paul de Marigny has been appointed as caretaker coach, supported by assistant coach Labinot Haliti, while the club commences its search for a new head coach.
It comes with Babbel's remodelled side languishing near the bottom of the A-League table, four points below the playoffs and with a record of just 10 wins in his 41 games in charge.
The club had been expected to wait until the return from overseas of chairman Paul Lederer, but appear to have been convinced to act by the backlash following the defeat to the Glory.
Babbel's 41st game in charge ended in a 1-0 loss to Perth, but it should be most notable as his last game at the helm. Not acting immediately would simply be delaying the inevitable, putting off an unpalatable but entirely necessary move.
A weakened Perth side shorn of four significant players still looked inherently more dangerous than the team that Babbel put together and which had carried great hopes for this campaign.
That Bruno Fornaroli's winner came giftwrapped, courtesy of Patrick Ziegler's error, just summed up the fragmented and frustrated nature of the Wanderers side that Babbel was given time and money to rebuild.
A crowd of 10,994 was rather more than the club might have feared to watch a side that has won just 10 times in a year and a half under Babbel, and which has rarely set the pulses racing.
The German is right in claiming that his side is only a small distance from the top six, but that gap is growing by the week - and even if Western Sydney did drag themselves into the finals positions, there is scant evidence they would survive in the playoffs for long.
With almost half the season to go, the club hierarchy are well aware that a new coach would need time to reinspire a squad of undeniable individual quality and yet little collective identity.
Next weekend the Wanderers have a bye, and Babbel promised to use the two weeks to "bring the heads up, work hard in these 14 days. We have to work on our fitness levels, on our structure, and start again."
After 14 games, those are self-damning words, especially as he went on to reveal that "too many" players lack match fitness under his own regime.
As for structure - for months players have complained of a lack of philosophy, of being expected to attack off the cuff. Against Perth, Nicolai Muller looked tuned into a different channel to his teammates, while Bruce Kamau looked bereft of any confidence.
Babbel's decision to play Patrick Ziegler as a holding midfielder, meanwhile, backfired when the German defender dallied on the ball and was robbed by Jake Brimmer. Fornaroli raced away with the ball and slotted home the winner.
Friendly and forthright, Babbel has made for good headlines since arriving here 18 months ago, especially given his ability to curse in his second language.
But in terms of making a decent football team - not so much. His mantra at the start of the season, that there could be no excuses given the use of a brand new stadium and training complex, gives him nowhere to hide now.
The lack of obvious - and available - alternatives, especially those with a knowledge of the Australian football landscape, has probably earned him a stay of execution until now, when the likes of Marko Kurz and Ernie Merrick have already gone.
"I'm a fighter!" Babbel declared twice after the game. But Wanderers chairman Paul Lederer returns from an overseas trip later this week, and must know what he has to do.