Another disappointing night for Wanderers coach Markus Babbel. Picture: Getty Images
Another disappointing night for Wanderers coach Markus Babbel. Picture: Getty Images

Babbel at wits’ end after another Wanderers defeat

Talk about an unhappy new year.

 

Western Sydney's dispiriting season stumbled into 2020 with another defeat, and the signs of decay have hardly been neutralised by last week's rather fortunate win in Adelaide.

 

Going down 2-1 to Brisbane at Bankwest Stadium on New Year's Day means Markus Babbel's side are just five points off the bottom, sitting seventh almost halfway through the season having lost exactly half their 12 games.

 

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Another disappointing night for Wanderers coach Markus Babbel. Picture: Getty Images
Another disappointing night for Wanderers coach Markus Babbel. Picture: Getty Images

While it's true that the Wanderers were denied a penalty which - by the standards used against them in recent weeks - looked a dead cert, blaming that for another disjointed, directionless display would be a straw-clutching exercise of some magnitude.

 

Babbel left boiling

 

The German was fuming over key moments that cost his side twice - first the denial of a penalty for Tom Aldred's handball, and then Patrick Ziegler's absence from the pitch to get strapping on a cut lip when Brisbane scored their winner.

 

That was caused by a wayward arm from Roy O'Donovan, but just as culpable were the Wanderers players who didn't cover for Ziegler and allowed Brad Inman to race through unimpeded, play a one-two and shoot home from the edge of the box.

 

"It's not the referee's fault, I don't understand the rule - our player gets hurt, it's a yellow card but our player has to get off the field (due to the bleeding)," said Babbel. "Then you concede the second goal... it's very frustrating."

 

The Wanderers’ Patrick Zigler in action against the Roar. Picture: Getty Images
The Wanderers’ Patrick Zigler in action against the Roar. Picture: Getty Images

Another video nasty

 

The fact Western Sydney didn't get a penalty for handball, just a week after conceding one, left almost every observer in the stadium baffled.

 

When Mo Adam's shot hit Tom Aldred's arm, the limb in question was moving up and away from his body. Compare that with last week, when Daniel Georgievski conceded a penalty at Adelaide for bunching his arms together to protect his face.

 

"No chance," said Babbel when asked if he understood the handball law revised by FIFA last year.

 

"It's like gambling, you put it on red and you get lucky, you put it on black and you're unlucky. It's madness.

 

"This is normal for us, sad to say. But we have to deal with it, we have to perform even better. If you have chances you have to score. Otherwise you lose."

 

The real problem here is precisely the stinking, unholy mess that FIFA has made of the handball law, one that no one seems to understand and which leaves great swathes of grey areas for referees to fill with competing interpretations.

The ball hits Roar captain Tom Aldred’s arm but the Wanderers weren’t awarded a penalty.
The ball hits Roar captain Tom Aldred’s arm but the Wanderers weren’t awarded a penalty.

Roar's fortune

 

To say Robbie Fowler was a relieved man afterwards would be an understatement following a performance that featured his side's inaugural first-half goal of the season and only its third win.

 

But it was hardly a convincing display from a team suffering from many of Western Sydney's issues - a lack of coherent style, ball rotation that starts and ends in defence, and little semblance of attacking movement.

 

The equaliser was a setpiece, Scott Neville left unmarked by Mitch Duke to thump home a header in the 20th minute, and Brisbane created little else beyond the winner.

 

 

BRISBANE ROAR 2 (Scott Neville 21m, Bradden Inman 61m) WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS 1 (Mitchell Duke 5m) at Bankwest Stadium. Crowd: 11,482. Referee: Alex King.


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