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Exclusive: Simon Cox talks Western Sydney Wanderers, Duke partnership & Milligan advice

It's been a whirlwind few months for Simon Cox, going from unwanted by Sol Campbell at Southend United to potential goalscoring saviour on the opposite side of the world.

But the former Republic of International insists joining the Western Sydney Wanderers was an opportunity he couldn't turn down, even if packing was a difficult task.

"Obviously there was a change of managers at Southend United in the season. Once that happened I was made to feel like I wasn't needed anymore, it was probably something that made me look for a new adventure somewhere else," he told Tribalfootball.com.

"And I thought, do you know what, I'm not too young anymore, so why not go and experience something completely new, and enjoy a bit of nice weather. It was four degrees [in England when I left]. I didn't even know what to pack when I came over. Just trying to fit your life into two suitcases, it's quite difficult. And obviously I came over just when the bushfires were finished, it was 40 degree heat."

As if extreme weather wasn't enough for the Reading native, the man who recruited him, Markus Babbel, was fired following a 1-0 loss to Perth Glory in Parramatta, a game which Cox watched from the stands.

But Cox insists the club and playing squad have made his transition seamless, with a former Southend teammate and ex-Socceroos captain vouching for Babbel's replacement, Jean-Paul de Marigny.

"I didn't know anything about JP before I came except for what Mark Milligan told me, which was that he was a great guy and a good coach. The first few days I was just trying to feel my way into training, but he's been great.

"He gives great enthusiasm to the training and he's very direct with what he wants us to do, but every day he's there with a smile and is probably the first one you see through the door.

"He's got a good balance between enjoyment and hard work, and listen, you can't be unimpressed with any of the results he's got since he took charge."

The Wanderers have lost once in five matches since Cox and De Marigny inherited their separate roles, which now makes finishing in the top-six an achievable goal.

Cox, who garnered 30 caps for Ireland, was brought in to replace the floundering Alexander Meier as the club's marquee signing, and more importantly, as a viable goalscorer.

What is especially pertinent for Western Sydney is the rapid development of the partnership between Cox and captain Mitchell Duke, something the 32-year-old says they are working on.

"It's been a partnership that's hit the ground running quite nicely. We do some extra finishing drills with one of the coaches two or three times a week.

"And we just try and be paired alongside each other as much as possible, just so we can get little combinations going and just finding out what eachother's movements are like in training so we can put it into practice in the game."

Cox has a wealth of experience after stints in England with Swindon Town, West Bromwich Albion, Nottingham Forest, Reading and Southend.

People would hardly look to compare the Championship with the A-League, but Cox argues there is only one major difference between the two competitions.

"I think the heat is a major factor in the pace that the game goes. You saw at the weekend when Melbourne City played Perth and it was ridiculous.

"That's the question I get asked a lot of what the standard of football is like and what the pace of the game is like. And I say to everyone: you put the Championship over here in 35 degree heat it would slow down, absolutely.

"I don't think the level of players here are too dissimilar potentially to anyone in League One or Championship. It's a competitive league which is good, but yeah the weather makes it slower, that's natural."


Western Sydney Wanderers will take on Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Andrew Maclean
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Andrew Maclean

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