The Scientific Method requires experimentation to prove a hypothesis.
Even if circumstances have forced his microscope to engage more data than is desirable, there’s no doubt Tony Popovic will have plenty of answers come the end of the season. Few coaches could be convinced to undergo the stress of replicating his experimentation.
It doesn’t require Dr. Frankenstein to stitch together a handy starting side from Western Sydney Wanderers’ treatment room. All the ingredients are there. Socceroos starters, eliable midfielders, creative attackers.
Cruel luck has impeded the success of the recent past but at least presented a model for improvement. Education can be drawn from misfortune but lessons must be learned or else it’s all an elementary waste.
So from a season of unease what have been the discoveries?
In recent weeks alone there have been findings to influence the future. At just 18, Jonathan Aspropotamitis has already illustrated the kind of poise which earned fellow young central defender Daniel Alessi plenty of plaudits. An own goal in Brisbane is his opportunity to examine techniques for avoiding a recurrence. The local product has a perfect sounding board in the shape of his senior coach.
Casting eyes further forward might have previously found a Tomi Juric-sized hole in attack, but not now. That 4-1 win over reigning champions Roar exhibited the clinical skills of others. Labinot Haliti reminded all of his abilities while Nikita Rukavytsya, Romeo Castelen and Kerem Bulut combined to devastating effect at Suncorp Stadium.
Bulut has been a revelation on the field since debuting for the Wanderers in February. The striker now has five goals in five appearances in the Hyundai A-League and doesn’t look like letting up.
Tomorrow’s match against Melbourne City might not be as straightforward but it could be more instructive.
The visitors are testing theories of their own. Finals hopes hinging on results have necessitated more trusted on-field formulas but away from it the higher-ups are watching with interest. City Football Group is trying to prove – or indeed disprove – what can be achieved with present resources.
Further allocation of funds to their Australian outpost will be decided by the earliest analysis of post-season data. That too will be sought after by Popovic to aid decision-making regarding contracts and targets.
Gears are already turning in view of next season while Tuesday night’s visit of FC Seoul could well and truly animate the AFC Champions League title defence.
Conclusions aren’t far from being drawn.
Tickets to Friday’s match against Melbourne City are still available and can be purchased here .