Football 2 years ago

Mid-season slump no mystery for Merrick

  • Mid-season slump no mystery for Merrick

    PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 18: Ernie Merrick, coach of the Phoenix, looks on during the round two A-League match between the Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix at nib Stadium on October 18, 2015 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

There's no mystery behind Wellington Phoenix's mid-season slump, coach Ernie Merrick says: his players just aren't selfish enough.

Eighth on the A-League ladder, Wellington haven't won since they downed defending champions Melbourne Victory 2-0 in early December.

They've been hit hard by injury, and a series off ill-timed suspensions hasn't helped either.

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They've conceded 18 goals in their last eight games, scored only six and sit 10 points astray of the top six and a place in the playoffs.

Merrick's not looking for reasons - he knows why.

"Every time I come up with a reason, it's looked on as an excuse," he said after training on Thursday.

"We just aren't good enough in front of goal. I've never seen a team attack, and be in the penalty box that many times and not have one goal to show for it."

"The bottom line is, we have got to have players that are determined to score goals.

"We've got too many nice players at this club, who say `it's your ball' or `it's his ball'.

"We have got to score goals."

Under-performing Dutch striker Jeffrey Sarpong has been let go, but with top scorer Roy Krishna still injured, Merrick has been forced to look further afield for a replacement.

Birmingham City reserve team striker Alex Jones has been secured on a short-term loan until the end of the season, but has yet to arrive in New Zealand and is unlikely to play when Wellington host Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.

Perth are one place and three points ahead of the Phoenix, riding high after their 3-2 win over Melbourne Victory last week and looking to extend a three-game unbeaten streak.

Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante returns from suspension to bolster the defence, a much needed boost for a Wellington team which Merrick is confident can still make the playoffs.

"There's 10 games to go, we want to get in the finals and that's not going to change.

"But we've got to start picking up wins."

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