Return to the A-League not totally out of the question for Tony...

Return to the A-League not totally out of the question for Tony Popovic, Zeljko Kalac says


Former Western Sydney Wanderers assistant Zeljko Kalac believes former boss and close aide Tony Popovic would be open to a return to the A-League if a club looks to acquire his services.

Currently unemployed, Popovic has already been linked with a return to Western Sydney, where he assumed the hot seat for five years and, notably, led the Red and Black to the Asian Champions League crown.

Popovic departed Western Sydney just a week before the 2017-18 A-League season was due to begin, assuming what was a dream role at Turkish club Karabukspor.

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However, the 44-year-old was fired after just nine games with the club sitting at the foot of the Super Lig table.

He is still without a club and was among the first names linked with the now vacant Wanderers job, which Gombau held for only six or so months.

The Wanderers said his axing had been carefully considered after a review of the season, in which they finished an underwhelming seventh on the table.

“Following a review of the season the decision has been made to appoint a new head coach for the 2018-19 season and beyond,” a brief Wanderers statement read.

“The club would like to thank Josep for his time with the Wanderers.”

Kalac, Popovic’s trusted goalkeeper coach, told Thursday’s Daily Football Show Gombau was not the right cultural fit for the Wanderers.

“Personally I think the culture of the club was built for five years in a certain way and I think John Tsatsimas (CEO), Mr (Paul) Lederer and Popa himself had an idea of what the club wanted to like as a culture and as a football club,” he said.

“I think with Josep coming in, it didn’t really fit the culture of the club and how the club looked to grow and go forward.”

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Kalac was none the wiser as to Popovic’s next move, but believes the door is not entirely shut on a return to the A-League.

“I don’t know, I really don’t know … I know him really well but I don’t know him that well,” ‘Spider’ said.

“What goes through his head sometimes is beyond me as well … who knows what goes through his head, he’s got a million things going through his head at the one time!

“He’s not a good coach, he’s the best coach in Australia by panels. He’s a very very very good coach.

“He’s probably outgrown the A-League, but in saying that, the man loves a challenge and if there is a club out there that wants to be successful, they’ll come after Popa, it’s as simple as that.”