By Markus Babbel’s own admission, coming to Australia appealed so much because it presented a different challenge; it is a world away from what he is used to in Europe.
Indeed the A-League is a different beast to vast majority of leagues in plenty of different respects; the lack of promotion and relegation being one of those.
It is an issue that is something of an elephant in the room for the game’s powerbrokers but has been acknowledged as an inescapable inevitability.
As things stand, Babbel’s Wanderers would be in relegation danger in many leagues globally, sitting a lowly eighth on the table with just five points to their name; one win and two draws.
A toothless defeat against Melbourne Victory was the latest of their problems, with the Victorian side running out comfortable 3-0 winners and out of sight before half time.
Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Babbel declared his players had fallen victim to the safety net mentality of Australia and it had to be reversed immediately.
Babbel labelled it “paradise city”, words made famous by Slash.
“First of all the most important thing for me is to know why we couldn’t show our performance, because we had the feeling of fear about this team. Here in Australia, you live in a paradise city, a paradise country because in Europe, it is much more difficult if you can go down in a second division,” Babbel explained.
“Then, the legs get heavy, mentally, you want to give 100% but you can’t because your head is not doing the right things because the pressure is so high. But here, nothing can happen. You cant drop down, you play a season and especially in this league, there is not a team there like Paris Saint-Germain or Barcelona.
“This is what I don’t understand and they have to learn it. It doesn’t matter if Honda is in front of you or now Simon. They are all good players if you give them space. But if we do our things right, they have a problem with us and this is what I want to talk about with the players because this is what I can’t understand, and I can’t accept this.
“I can lose a game … good style of football, many chances (against Newcastle) but we couldn’t score and from nothing, we conceded one. This can happen. This football. But I can’t understand if you play against Melbourne Victory, of course this is a good side and they have quality and they won the league last year. But don’t be shy against them.
POTY | Honda doing Honda things. He’s now 4️⃣ points clear of the chasing pack.
— Daily Football Show (@DFS_AUS) December 4, 2018
“You can hurt them. They have something to lose, not us and this is what I want to see, not only on Friday but for the next weeks and months.”
Babbel and his Wanderers’ next chance to shake up their lousy form comes against Central Coast Mariners, back at Spotless Stadium after the Friday night horror show of a fortnight ago against Newcastle Jets.
“This is not only for us but for many clubs. Maybe the focus, the concentration … maybe you lose this because nothing can happen,” Babbel added.
“We have to bring this mentality in this club, but again this is a process. This is sad but it’s not going from one day to the other day.
“If I see the boys from the beginning to now, there has been a big improvement.”
Babbel added the Wanderers were lacking leaders in their squad; they did not have a “man” they could turn to.