Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick wants his frontmen to show composure in front of goal to reward fans seeking the club’s first win of the season.
No one is manning the lifeboats yet at the Wellington Phoenix, but after eight games without a win, coach Ernie Merrick is counting on all hands on deck to help them down A-League leaders Brisbane Roar.
Injury concerns over the influential Carlos Hernandez, who missed the defeat to Perth in the last round, Paul Ifill and holding midfielder Albert Riera have forced Merrick to wait until game day to finalise the squad for Saturday’s fixture at the Westpac Stadium.
The trio all trained on Friday, but their involvement will not be confirmed until the morning of the match with the home side desperate to reward fans eager for something to celebrate in their last home game before Christmas.
“We all feel that we’ve let the fans down. We feel that we should have won three games and we let it slip,” Merrick said.
It’s a sentiment shared by captain Andrew Durante who says the team should have more than four points to show for their efforts this season despite playing in a much more attractive way.
“It is frustrating. The players are frustrated, but we have a really strong belief that we’re on the right path and we’re doing the right things,” Durante said.
“There’s definitely not panic stations at the club,” he said before highlighting the need for the club to start picking up points if they wanted to make the finals.
Panic when presented with goal-scoring opportunities has let the Phoenix down this season leaving Merrick a little miffed why players can’t reproduce their training ground efforts come match day.
“They’re going well at training, but I think they just need to have a little bit of composure to be able to do that at the weekend.”
Denied a deserved draw against the Roar by a last-minute Ivan Franjic goal in the opening fixture of the season, Merrick is promising the Phoenix will not let the league’s leading scorers dominate proceedings.
“The worst thing you can do is try and defend the whole game against them, you’ve got to take the game to them,” he said.
That approach will put the hosts’ defensive line under pressure but Merrick is happy with how his backline has been playing, save for the four goals conceded against Perth, and expects them to handle the threat from striker Besart Berisha.