James Meredith and Mitchell Duke contest for the ball in round 15 of the A-League.
James Meredith and Mitchell Duke contest for the ball in round 15 of the A-League.

Wanderers coach drama ‘puts players on notice’

Wanderers captain Mitchell Duke maintain the team must treat every remaining game in the A-League "like it's a final'' for the Western Sydney team to be a force in the second half of the season and is tipping their next outing against the Mariners to be "hard core''.

Under new caretaker coach Paul de Marigny, the Wanderers are preparing for their crucial round 17 encounter against the Central Coast Mariners on February 2 - a match Duke said will be a fight between two equally desperate teams.

 

James Meredith competes with Mitchell Duke in their round 15 clash.
James Meredith competes with Mitchell Duke in their round 15 clash.

 

But Duke, born in Liverpool and who played his junior football with the Parramatta Eagles, said the beleaguered Wanderers are up for the task and know the importance of moving up the standings.

"It will be a tough game against the Mariners. They are in a similar situation to us. It will be hard core and they will be desperate for the win like us because they have been struggling as well,'' said the Leppington 29-year-old forward.

 

If the club is willing to let go of a good coach and a good guy it puts everyone on notice

 

"We cannot afford to drop any more games. Every game is like a final now and that's the mindset we have to have.''

Duke said the clubs A-League bye has come at an important time as they regroup from the sacking of coach Markus Babbel in the wake of their 0-1 loss to Perth Glory and a string of losses which has seen the team rack up just four points from their last 10 matches.

"The change might be the kick up the bum we need,'' Duke said.

 

Mitchell Duke said the club needs to lift its game in the second half of the season.
Mitchell Duke said the club needs to lift its game in the second half of the season.

"If the club is willing to let go of a good coach and a good guy it puts everyone on notice. "We have to turn it around on the pitch because this is what happens when we don't perform. "There is a sense of pride. There are players going for contracts. There are no excuses. It's about stopping talking and doing it.''

Duke said he believes the Wanderers have the talent to change their fortunes.

"We have to come out of the bye as a different looking team, like this is a fresh start for all of us,'' he said.

"The frustrating thing about our season is we have the quality individually as players to be right up there. We should be very disappointed. We should be in the top four. But our performance hasn't been their collectively as a team.

"I'm hoping with the bye it gives us time to refresh, reset and gel.

"At the start of the season we just started so strong. Our energy level and aggressiveness in games dropped off a bit. We need to get that edge back.''


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