Tony Popovic
Tony Popovic Barry Leddicoat 167320

Club with no name gets coach

TONY Popovic has swapped a football club with a proud 107-year history for one with no history - it doesn't even have a name or players.

Popovic, 38, a former Socceroo, has left his role as assistant manager at English Championship club Crystal Palace and signed a four-year deal to be the inaugural coach of the new A-League club in western Sydney.

It is his first head coaching role and Popovic, a defender who earned 58 caps for the Socceroos, said the decision to take on the western Sydney role was an opportunity he could not refuse.

"I'm definitely excited. I'm honoured, privileged," he said.

Popovic has been released from the final year of his contract at Crystal Palace.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to coach the new club in western Sydney. I'm really excited about the mission ahead of us," he said. "I grew up in west Sydney and learned my football there, but it's the challenge of a start-up club in football's heartland that has brought me home.

"I know the region has a great passion for the game, fantastic junior ranks and thousands of life-long fans. These are ingredients that can help make our club a success."

Popovic said he wouldn't be wasting any time getting started. He would begin putting together his squad immediately, admitting it was a task.

"We are short of time, but we're confident we're going to have a competitive team from the outset," he said.

Although there had been plenty of talk that he would take on the coaching role at Sydney FC, the team he finished his playing career with in 2008, Popovic said that was never the case.

"I never had any detailed discussions with Sydney FC," he said.

"There was nothing formal ever discussed there. It was really about making sure I left on really good terms with Palace."

Someone else who has put pen to paper for the fledgling club is former Mariners chairman Lyall Gorman, who has been appointed chief executive officer after leaving his position as A-League chief.

Gorman was an instrumental figure in the foundation of the Central Coast club in 2004 and current chairman Peter Turnbull said Gorman's sound track record and business nous would serve western Sydney well.

"I can honestly think of few better people for the job," Turnbull said.

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