Tony Popovic takes charge at Karabukspor in his first match tomorrow, fully aware he's at the beginning of a boom-or-bust journey in the Turkish Super Lig.
By
Dave Lewis

13 Oct 2017 - 11:13 AM  UPDATED 13 Oct 2017 - 11:14 AM

Success with the working class team sitting third last after seven games could catapult the former Western Sydney Wanderers coach to undreamed of heights.

Failure - and club president Hikmet Ferudun Tankut is notorious for his impatience - would force Popovic into a premature homecoming.

The same, of course, would apply to the ambitious former Socceroos defender's support staff, fellow Wanderers recruits Andres Carrasco and Zeljko Kalac.

Having finished 12th last season, the team nicknamed the Blue Flame, after the smoke that billows from the chimneys of the nearby coal-steel works, view 44-year-old Popovic as a potential prophet who can conjure Super Lig survival.

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He will need to reprise the mystical powers which won him the Asian Champions League crown to avoid becoming just another another victim of Karabukspor's culling fields.

Karobukspor have churned through eight coaches in 31 months, leaving Popovic in no doubt where he stands with club president Tankut ahead of Saturday's home match against Kayserispor at the Dr. Necmettin Seyhoglu Stadium.

Since the sacking of Tolunay Kafkas in February 2015, after 19 months at the helm, a conga line of coaches have come and gone, lasting an average of just three months apiece.

There were three in 2015-2016 alone, when the Blue Flame ignited to claim promotion back to the Super Lig a year after their demotion.

On the flip side, should results go his way, Popovic could find the Black Sea-based club a springboard to richer managerial pastures, just like former Croatia and Juventus defender Igor Tudor.

Tudor, 39, benefited greatly from his eight month stint, leading the team to shock wins over a number of big name opponents.

Turkish glitterati Galatasaray took notice and handed Tudor the baton in February.

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Karabukspor are currently completing a two-year ban from European competition after breaching FIFA financial regulations.

Popovic has, though, received assurances that he will be handed a war chest in January to bolster a struggling line-up, and there may be some A-League targets among them.

Having arrived in Turkey last week, he will take his seat in the dugout on Saturday with Karabukspor having lost their last four.

Popovic, who has signed a one-year deal with an option for a second, told local media at his unveiling: "We will see better results to come and need some time to talk about the future.

"I'm sure everything will be much improved."

Having stepped in to replace Erkan Sozeri - sacked after one win in seven games - the only way will hopefully be up for the former Crystal Palace assistant who has long coveted such an opportunity.

If it doesn't go according to plan, it's conceivable that Popovic might parachute straight back into a prime gig with the Socceroos as Ange Postecoglou's eventual successor.