Back Chat: Wanderers winning western front

IT seems Western Sydney just can’t get enough of the A-League’s Wanderers – and for good reason.

Coach Tony Popovic’s team, which was formed a little more than six months ago, has been the undisputed success story of the season so far. And that’s saying a lot when you consider worldwide stars Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey were signed up by rival A-League clubs at the start of the season.

The latest fairytale moment came on Tuesday evening when the Wanderers beat traditional powerhouse Melbourne Victory 2-1 to jump into third spot.

Japanese import Shinji Ono struck two of the finest goals you are likely to see to secure the win and cement the Wanderers’ status as serious title contenders.

A crowd of just under 14,000 was at Parramatta Stadium on Tuesday and if I was on the board of NRL strugglers the Parramatta Eels, I’d be very worried, especially if, as expected, the Eels wobble their way through next season.

Meanwhile in Europe, the New Year signalled the start of the January transfer window – aka “silly season”.

And it didn’t take long for the crazy mega-money stories to start surfacing. 

Perhaps the most eye-catching one so far came from Catalonia when it was reported that an unnamed Russian club bid $320 million for Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, one of the greatest players of all time.

However, the Argentine star was strong enough to turn down the $37.5 million net salary that was on offer! 

MUNDINE MAKES MASSIVE CALL, AGAIN

“I am the best athlete ever produced in this country, ever. My name is going to live for eternity.”

Guess who said those words earlier this week. No, it wasn’t Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt or Diego Maradonna – all men who could say such things and not be guilty of shameless exaggeration – but it was Anthony Mundine. 

The boxer, whose mouth moves at rates his hands could only dream of, was believe it or not talking himself up in a promotional video ahead of his January 30 IBF title fight against Daniel Geale.

The two men have only fought once before and Mundine won in highly controversial circumstances on that occasion. 

But this month I can only see one winner and that is the politely spoken, incredibly humble and respectful Geale.

Despite the fact I’ll be cheering for “The Real Deal” Geale, the bout will be a historic one for Australian boxing regardless of the outcome, as it will mark the first time two Australians have fought for the IBF world middleweight title.

Oh and for the record, I consider Sir Donald Bradman, Ian Thorpe, Ricky Ponting, Cadel Evans and Lionel Rose (among many others) as Australian male athletes better than Mundine. 

THUNDER BLOWING A GAYLE IN SYDNEY

I’m sure by now most of you have caught up on the Chris Gayle-Brad Haddin Twitter feud.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Big Bash League organisers instructed the players to dish this out in order to finally give some soul and substance to the Sydney Sixers-Sydney Thunder “rivalry”. 

In case you missed it, Gayle got Haddin out, Haddin responded with a cheeky dig in the post-match interview and then Gayle took to Twitter to assert his self-granted dominance.

I know, intense stuff. 

I like Gayle and I’m a big fan of his cricket abilities but maybe he should concentrate more on ending the Thunder’s winless run and less on telling Haddin that he’s a better batsman with his wrong hand.

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