Who would have thought just over halfway into their second season, the A-League’s newest club, Western Sydney, would have the longest-standing coach currently serving in the competition?
Tony Popovic, who was appointed the Wanderers’ inaugural coach less than two years ago in May 2012, is already enjoying a longer stint in the role than any of his present colleagues.
It’s a surprising statistic that serves to highlight the intense pressure on mentors and the perhaps overly reactive decisions of clubs as Sydney FC’s under-fire boss Frank Farina stands to be the next casualty.
Already reports have emerged that Farina’s sacking is imminent with his assistant Rado Vidosic tipped to be his successor.
So far, three coaches have been sacked this season with Perth’s Alistair Edwards and Melbourne Heart’s John Aloisi dumped in December while Newcastle gave Gary van Egmond the boot last month.
And with the clubs occupying the bottom three places on the ladder, new coaches Kenny Lowe, John van ‘t Schip and Clayton Zane face tough tasks not only securing finals berths but their jobs for next season.
Then there are the resignations with Adelaide’s John Kosmina standing down early last year and Wellington’s Ricki Herbert – the league’s longest-serving coach – closely following.
Their replacements Spaniard Josep Gombau and Ernie Merrick, however, have led the struggling sides into a mid-season resurgence and look the in-form teams heading into the business end of the campaign.
Ian Crook crumbled under the pressure that comes with being the Sydney FC head coach only weeks into his tenure last season, to be replaced by the club’s seventh mentor in eight campaigns in Farina – someone the club saw as a long-term solution to the revolving door that is the Sky Blues’ coaching role.
But sitting in seventh place after stumbling to their seventh loss in the past 10 matches – a 3-0 shellacking by Adelaide on Saturday – Farina has his head firmly on the chopping block.
The frustrated fans made it clear they’ve had enough, demonstrating their displeasure on Saturday by staging a revolt, calling for not only Farina’s head but that of chairman Scott Barlow and chief executive Tony Pignata.
It was one of the darkest nights in the club’s history with the atmosphere at Allianz Stadium described as toxic.
And many of the club’s loyal fans have threatened to give back their memberships.
But while Pignata and Barlow apologised to fans over how various issues were handled on Saturday, the one glaring omission from their extensive statement was the backing of Farina.
So while Farina will reportedly be relieved of his job if Sydney do not make the top four this season, it seems the club might not even wait until then to give him the axe.