High alert: Jets stopper Nikolai Topor-Stanley is looking forward to taking on his former club Western Sydney. Picture: Darren Pateman AAP TOWERING Jets stopper Nikolai Topor-Stanley admits he didn’t know what being a professional footballer meant before he joined Western Sydney Wanderers.
For four years, Wandererscoach tony Popovic drilled home the importance of preparation, planning and physical condition.
Topor-Stanley does not expect Wanderers to be any different now they are under the control of Popovic’s former lieutenant Hayden Foxe.
“It would be pretty hard to change the principles Poppa brought to that club overnight,” Topor-Stanley said.
Nor does Topor-Stanley believe a draining schedule will be a concern for Wanderers when they take on the Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.
Wanderers gave up a 2-0 lead to draw 2-all with Sydney in a pulsating Sydney derby last Saturday, before going down 2-1 to Adelaide in the FFA Cup semi-final at Campbelltown on Tuesday.
“Knowing Poppa, he would have had them drilled a long time before this to be ready,” he said of the former coach, who left Wanderers on the eve of the season to join Turkish club Karabükspor.“He plans far, far ahead. The one thing I learned from him is that he would have them ready. I Don’t think that will cause a ripple in that team.”
Popovic’s exitis not the only change at Wanderers.
The arrival of former La Liga duo Oriol Riera and Alvaro Cejudo and Dutch No.10 Roly Bonevacia have added a new dimension to their attack.
“They have recruited well, especially in the attacking roles,” Topor-Stanley said. “TheSpanish players, especially their striker, havebeen in a rich vein of form. We will have our hands full.”
Wanderers have scored two goals in each of the opening three rounds and, like the Jets, are unbeaten.
Asked what the key was to stoppingWanderers, Topor-Stanley said: “IfI knew the answer to how to shut down opposition squads, I would have the golden ticket.Ernie has flagged that he is not to happy with us conceding goals every game. As a defender I am not too happy about that either, but we are still winning. We can’t take away from our attacking players who are winning us games.I think, without it sounding too cliche, it is about us focusing on what we have been doing well.”
What the Jets are “doing well” is scoring goals. They have netted nine in three games, three more than the next best, with Roy O’Donovan grabbing five.
However, they will be without marquee midfielder Ronny Vargas, who faces a long stint on the sideline after breaking his left ankle in a 2-1 win over Brisbane.
“Mentally, without dismissing it, we haveto focus on our job,” Topor-Stanley said. “That is what he would want us to do.”