Western Sydney have farewelled their first players of the Josep Gombau era, releasing Jumpei Kusukami and Jacob Melling.
The A-League club’s transition to a more expansive style under new coach Gombau has divided his dressing room, and it’s understood the pair may not be the last exits in January.
Melling is due to sign with Central Coast this week subject to a medical while Jumpei has returned to Japan, reportedly to sign with Shimizu S-Pulse. The vacated spots will give Gombau room to pursue players he believes are more suited to his philosophy.
Jumpei’s release in particular opens up an import slot on the Wanderers’ previously full roster.
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The winger endured an inconsistent two seasons at Blacktown, showing flashes of brilliance but scoring only four goals.
In Monday night’s breakthrough 2-1 win over Melbourne City, Jumpei was subbed on in the 10th minute for the injured Alvaro Cejudo only to be subbed off again in the 85th, at which point he made clear his unhappiness with Gombau’s decision. The New Year’s Day victory was sorely needed and was the coach’s second in his seven games at the helm.
Afterwards, the Spaniard insisted he wasn’t burdened under the weight of external criticism.
“I don’t feel this pressure,” Gombau said.
“I’m very clear what I would like to do and it’s the way I work. “Every single coach has pressure, every game is an exam.
“A lot of people can evaluate and can think and make opinions, for me it doesn’t change my mentality, it doesn’t change anything.
“I believe in one set way to think.
“Because now we win, I don’t have pressure, last week we lost, big pressure for me … I imagine I could finish crazy in my life.” Melling, who played only 55 minutes for the Wanderers this season and 21 minutes in the last, will arrive in Gosford at a fortunate time.
Danny De Silva and Trent Buhagiar are away with the Olyroos for potentially more than a month while Harry Ascroft has left for a trial in Malta, leaving the ninth-placed Mariners short for a busy January.