Gareth Morgan calls impatient Phoenix fans 'pathetic'
Gareth Morgan has labelled the very people he is imploring to turn up and support the Wellington Phoenix as "pathetic" and unsophisticated" for wanting to see short-term results from his professional football team.
The A-League club's co-owner, who has admitted in the past that his football knowledge is limited, has also claimed that many fans "don't know much about the game anyway" and are only thinking about themselves, rather than the long-term viability of the club.
In an interview with Radio Sport, prior to Saturday's club record 7-1 drubbing by Sydney FC but aired this morning, Morgan let rip at fans for wanting "instant gratification". He said the club's change in football philosophy, to a more attractive, possession-based passing style, was required for success in the long-term.
The Phoenix have struggled with this shift, bizarrely implemented mid-season, and are last.
But Morgan said they would not be reverting back to their former style, which is based around solid defence and getting balls into the box from the flanks, for the sake of results. Fans would have to put up with "short-term pain".
"The bigger picture is far, far more important than the short term," he said.
"All some people do is look at the league tables and that's all there is to the game for them. Well, they're pathetic really.
"Before we said let's change the style a bit, I thought the fan base was probably 80-20 in favour of a style change because we were never going to win and be persistent winners of the A-League playing the way we played. That's all been forgotten now," Morgan said.
"People expect instant gratification or gain with no pain. It's just pathetic really. I can't think of any activity where you change like that and there's not a short-term cost as you go through the changes.
"Fans are a cross section of the public, you know. A lot of them don't know much about the game anyway and certainly, in my view, think only of themselves, not about the future of the club. This club has got a whole lot of stuff to do in order to be sustainable, and that's what we're going to do."
Morgan criticised people who "simply looked at the league table".
"If you look at the last two games, for the first half of both of those games, the team actually played extremely well. I think the style of football the Phoenix have been playing, when they have been good in those games, has been very attractive. I can tell that by sitting in the crowd.
"We're on the road, people have just got to be a little more sophisticated in their interpretation."
Asked if they would be bringing in players more suited to the style of football the club wants, Morgan said there wouldn't be "wholesale changes".
There would be natural attrition, as there is at the end of every season, but he expressed confidence in the squad and said wholesale changes would be "rubbish".
While the basis of professional sport would appear, to most anyway, to be about winning, Morgan said he could live without playoffs football this season.
"To me it is all about the bigger picture because we have to make this team sustainable and more successful than just making the playoffs."
The Dominion Post