Western Sydney Wanderers interim boss Jean-Paul de Marigny hailed his side’s performance against Sydney FC in Saturday night’s 1-1 derby draw as the best under his seven-game tenure so far.
The Red and Black trailed their cross-city rivals due to Adam Le Fondre’s 35th-minute opener at Bankwest Stadium but a dominant second half showing from de Marigny’s men was rewarded when Kwame Yeboah landed a bizarre late equaliser.
Western Sydney are now undefeated in their last four derbies against Sydney, their longest unbeaten stretch in history.
And although a pair of smash and grab 1-0 victories over the Sky Blues in October and February sparked ecstasy for fans but had an element of good fortune, Saturday’s excellent performance produced a thoroughly deserved point and underlined the improvement the Wanderers have made under de Marigny’s charge.
“Without the ball, our discipline and desire to win the contest was phenomenal,” he said.
“We caused them a lot of problems in possession of the ball. We had a lot of shots. But they’re a great side – I felt that in the second half they were there for the taking.
“Just a little bit more quality in the last key pass or cross could have hurt them much more.”
De Marigny did not hesitate to declare the performance the best of his reign so far when asked after the match. It is not difficult to see why.
After last Saturday’s battling 1-1 draw with Melbourne City, the 56-year-old urged his side to be smarter in possession of the ball. In the Wanderers’ previous three matches, the Red and Black had averaged a possession count of 34%.
Against Sydney, the Wanderers held 51% of the ball, attempted 20 shots to Sydney’s 10, and it was just the second match of de Marigny’s tenure that saw his side make more passes than the opposition.
“We’re building something and the players are believing in themselves and trusting themselves,” he said.
The encounter, billed as ‘The Lockout Derby’, was played behind closed doors in Parramatta as the COVID-19 pandemic grips the world.
Before the match, de Marigny had challenged the Wanderers to rally under the unique circumstances and give the Western Sydney community something to cheer about.
“We’re still representing them, they’re watching us. It’s an unfortunate situation at the moment.
“There are a lot of people suffering in our country and world wide. It’s a privileged position to represent the people that support us.
“It’s our responsibility to give a bit of joy to those people for 95 minutes and it was very well done by the players.
“You represent them by spirit. And there was a lot of spirit on the pitch. I’m ever so proud of them.”
De Marigny added that German attacker Nicolai Muller would likely return for the Wanderers’ next match.
Muller missed the derby due to tendon inflammation and was not risked due to the hectic schedule of fixtures coming up around the Hyundai A-League.
“If it was the last game of the year he would have played.”