Buoyant Bulut seeks derby redemption for Wanderers

Western Sydney Wanderers cult hero Kerem Bulut scored twice against Sydney FC in his only derby encounter – only to end up on the losing side.

Kerem Bulut

Kerem Bulut is looking forward to his second stint with Western Sydney Wanderers Source: Getty Images

But the effervescent striker, back at Wanderland for a second spell, is confident Western Sydney will deliver delight for the majority of a 60,000-plus crowd at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, as old enmities are renewed.

Bulut remembers all too well his double in the 4-3 derby loss 18 months ago, with Sydney winning five of their last seven against the Wanderers, and the other two ending in draws.


That trend is about to end though, according to Bulut, who said their refashioned team, assembled by coach Tony Popovic for the new A-League season, is far superior to the side he played with during his previous 13 game, six-goal stint with the club.

"The last time I was happy to get on the scoresheet but not with the result," Bulut said.

"But we are a far better side this time and I will personally be fitter and stringer than I was then, that’s for sure.

"I believe in our team 100 per cent and I don’t think there’s a side in the league which will work as hard as us.

"I think we will definitely be good enough to do the job."

Bulut said that last season’s beaten grand finalists will be the scalp everybody craves in 2016-2017.

"We are the Western Sydney Wanderers and everybody wants to beat us," he said.

"Why? Because we have won championships (AFC Champions League), we have the best fans in the league, and people know how hard it is to get points off us.

"And I know our fans will help push us through the game against Sydney.

"The last time I was back I was playing unfit, but now I am 100 per cent.

"We are aiming high at this club and we want to everything this season … that’s our plan. We are not going to settle for second best.

"We have great depth in the squad, and that’s what wins titles and we have the team to do that."

Bulut, who grew up in Western Sydney, said Popovic will get the best out of him as he returns to a central striking role, after playing a season as a winger for Greek side Iraklis.

"The coach understands me, the club understands me, the players understand me and I feel I am back in a football environment where I am happy again," Bulut said.

"I am at home now, and it’s fantastic to be back and I feel better bodywise than I have at any stage in my career.

"I feel fit and sharp, and it’s really working out for me to be back.

"I’ve had coaches in the past where maybe we couldn’t get along or I couldn’t understand them so well, and vice versa, but it’s different with Popa.

"We have a great relationship there and I just want to do well for him now.

"He knows I will always do everything I can for him and do what I can for the club."

Bulut, who enjoys a special relationship with the Wanderers' faithful, welcomes the expectation surrounding his return.

"That will always be there and you want to be the best," he said.

"If you just want to be a normal player you can go under the radar, but if you want to be the best you have to produce and I put a lot of pressure on myself to deliver, and that's what I aim to do."

Bulut said he will be disappointed if he nets less than 15 goals this season in all competitions, with the Wanderers also involved in the AFC Champions League.

"That’s my target (15 goals) and anything less than that will be an underachievement for me," Bulut said.

"If I get more, then it’s a bonus."

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4 min read
Published 6 October 2016 at 8:52am
By Dave Lewis