Gombau safest gamble for Wanderers

As Josep Gombau was unveiled as Western Sydney Wanderers' new head coach inside a small administration room in Blacktown on Wednesday, the sounds of a construction site could be heard in the background. Diggers, trucks and workers were busy building the club's new elite training centre across the road, complete with nine football fields and a club house.

The earth movers didn't make for a pretty sight, but did explain why Gombau was the man the Wanderers want for their foreseeable future.

The Catalan coach was far from the biggest name that dropped on their desk. He was certainly not the most decorated. Some will argue that he's not the most exciting and even less can suggest he was the most experienced. But, according to the Wanderers chairman, Paul Lederer, he was the best fit for what they wanted.

"We took our time - we took a long time - and without question I like to think that he's the best man for the job. I know he's the best man for the job," he said. "In the end it was quite a simple decision to be honest."

Winners medals from the FFA Cup, two Hong Kong leagues titles and two Hong Kong domestic cup successes are in Gombau's trophy cabinet but it is also his record in developing youngsters, overseeing academies and playing attractive football that convinced Lederer to grant him a three-year deal.

The Wanderers are a club always evolving. Their state-of-the-art training facility will be complemented by what should be the best football stadium in Australia once their new home in Parramatta is completed in 2019. Combined, they will have the factory and shop front for a club that wants success born from local talent.

For a club that knew only Tony Popovic as coach, they wanted something new. Former assistant and current Socceroos assistant Ante Milicic was understood to have been ruled out, largely due to his strong ties with their former coach. A deal with a German coach, reported to be Dirk Schuster, fell through late. As far as gambling goes, Gombau presented a safe option.

He spent six years as a youth academy coach with Barcelona, proved he can play attractive football in the A-League with Adelaide United and spent a year-and-a-half with the Australian national team set-up as Olyroos coach and assistant to Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou. As Lederer joked, he considers Gombau an Australian despite his passport.

Gombau's sighting at three Wanderers home games this season says more about his sense of alignment with the club than words. He made no secret of his desire to play a possession-based, attacking style of football. He respected the previous work and foundations set by Popovic but he will not be attached to former mantras. Perhaps most telling was his desire to streamline a football philosophy from the top down, much like the approach at La Masia.

"[I want] to build a philosophy ... We have a very young squad here, we have a very good academy but we will build even bigger when we have the facilities so that every single kid can play the same style as the first squad. When you see the first squad playing you recognise that this is WSW," he said.

It is for this reason he had no hesitation in quitting his post at Football Federation Australia, even on the eve of the Socceroos' qualifiers against Honduras. Western Sydney are a club building towards something special and the Wanderers believe Gombau is the man that will take them to the next stage of evolution.

"I'm very happy if Josep stays forever as far as I'm concerned," Lederer said.

This story Gombau safest gamble for Wanderers first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.