Tony Popovic denies pressuring his Wanderers

A Premiership winner but not a champion in his first season as a head coach last term, the Wanderers boss has denied claims he expected too much from his troops in the finals

Western Sydney Wanderers head coach Tony Popovic has denied he put 'extra pressure' on his players after they won the A-League premiership in their maiden campaign.

The Wanderers were the talk of the 2012-13 A-League season as they stunned the competition in their first year, finishing on top of the ladder to win the Premier's Plate, before reaching the grand final, only to lose to Central Coast.

But while big crowds and success will ensure Western Sydney do not fly under anyone's radar heading into 2013-14, Popovic, who regularly argued last season that there were no limits to what his team could achieve, has claimed his expectations will remain the same at 'Wanderland'.

"I don't think there will be extra pressure on this group internally," Popovic said on Tuesday.

"Externally I am sure the pressures will be different and expectations different from the outside.

"But it's up to us to handle that.

"I would much rather have that concern; trying to back up something that we've done so well and that's the challenge that we have."

Western Sydney barely got their squad together before their opening season with marquee midfielder Shinji Ono joining the club on September 28, just over a week before their inaugural A-League match versus the Mariners.

The build up to this season has been very different as Popovic has 22 players signed up and, having already played two friendlies ahead of Wednesday's trial match against Wellington, the Wanderers coach reckons his team will be even better a year on.

"It's nice to have the group together at such an early stage," Popovic said.

"We're working on things a lot earlier as a group and we're quietly confident that can help us throughout the year.

"Six weeks in, the players are doing well. We still have a long way to go until the start of the season.

"We are just building them up slowly and getting some game time into the players to try and be ready for that first game."

The Wanderers' opening match of the new campaign will be a rematch of last season's grand final against Central Coast in Gosford on October 12.

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