Phoenix struggling to find right balance

04:19, Dec 23 2012
Phoenix vs Sydney FC
Terry Antonis of Sydney FC and Louis Fenton of the Phoenix compete fort he ball.
Phoenix vs Sydney FC
Stein Huysegems of the Phoenix headers the ball past Adam Griffiths of Sydney.
Phoenix vs Sydney FC
Sydney's Alessandro Del Piero during the A-League football match between Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC.
Phoenix vs Sydney FC
Sydney's Alessandro Del Piero during the A-League football match between Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC.
Photos: Phoenix vs Sydney FC
Wellington Phoenix's Stein Huysegems celebrates after scoring a goal.
Phoenix vs Heart
Phoenix goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley kicks the ball back into play during the round two A-League match between the Melbourne Heart and the Wellington Phoenix.
Phoenix vs Heart
Heart goalkeeper Clint Bolton takes the ball during the round two A-League match between the Melbourne Heart and the Wellington Phoenix.
Phoenix vs Heart
Paul Ifill of the Phoenix celebrates with his teammates after he converted a penalty.
Phoenix vs Heart
Manny Muscat of the Phoenix challenges Mate Dugandzic of the Heart.
Paul Ifill
Paul Ifill tussles with Mitch Nichols of the Brisbane Roar.
Nixie
Wellington Pheonix mascot Nixie entertains the crowd before the Brisbane Roar game.
Manny Muscat
Mitch Nichols (left) and Manny Muscat compete for the ball.
Steyn Huysegems
Steyn Huysegems celebrates scoring the opening goal for the Phoenix against Brisbane Roar.
Phoenix vs Adelaide
Leo Bertos (L) of Wellington competes with Iain Ramsay of Adelaide.
Phoenix vs Adelaide
Ben Sigmund of Wellington gets away from Jeronimo Neumann of Adelaide.
Phoenix vs Adelaide
Louis Fenton of Wellington competes with Cassio of Adelaide.
Phoenix vs Adelaide
Paul Ifill of Wellington tackles Central Coast's Tomas Rogic.
Phoenix vs Adelaide
A stoush during the second half when Manny Muscat of Wellington was handed a yellow card.
Phoenix vs Adelaide
Louis Fenton of Wellignton takes a tumble.
Phoenix vs Adelaide
Wellington Phoenix's Alex Smith goes for a header.
Phoenix vs Adelaide
Wellington Phoenix's Tyler Boyd and Central Coast Mariners' Joshua Rose.
Phoenix
Paul Ifill battles for possession with Diogo Ferreira of the Melbourne Victory.
Phoenix
Jeremy Brockie is tackled by Diogo Ferreira during the Phoenix's loss to the Victory.
Phoenix
Jonathan Bru of the Victory contests with Vince Lia and Tyler Boyd of the Phoenix.
Phoenix
Adama Traore of the Victory and Stein Huysegems of the Phoenix contest for the ball.
Phoenix vs Adelaide
Emile Heskey of the Jets and Ben Sigmund of the Phoenix contest the ball.
Phoenix vs Adelaide
Ryan Griffiths of the Jets and Andrew Durante of the Phoenix fight for control.
Phoenix vs Adelaide
Benjamin Totori of the Phoenix.
Phoenix vs Adelaide
Ben Sigmund of the Phoenix in action.
Phoenix vs Adelaide
Tyler Boyd of the Phoenix and Scott Neville of the Jets go after the high ball.
Phoenix vs Glory
Shane Smeltz of the Glory and Andrew Durante of Wellington contest possession.
Phoenix vs Glory
Jacob Burns of the Glory tackles Louis Fenton of Wellington.
Phoenix vs Glory
Paul Ifill of Wellington in action against the Perth Glory.
Phoenix vs Glory
Ben Sigmund of Wellington and Chris Harold of Perth contest possession.
Phoenix vs Glory
Jeremy Brockie of the Phoenix celebrates after scoring against Western Sydney.
Phoenix vs Glory
Alexander Smith of the Phoenix in action with Dino Kresinger of the Wanderers.
Phoenix vs Glory
Alexander Smith of the Phoenix in action.
Phoenix vs Glory
Stein Huysegems of the Phoenix in action.
Phoenix vs Glory
Paul Ifill of the Phoenix and Jerome Polenz of the Wanderers go for the ball.
Phoenix vs Glory
Louis Fenton of the Phoenix and Nikolai Topor-Stanley of the Wanderers in action.
Phoenix vs Glory
Jeremy Brockie of the Phoenix scores.
Phoenix vs Glory
Jeremy Brockie of the Phoenix in action.
sdfBen Sigmund
Terry McFlynn (left) of Sydney fights for possession with Ben Sigmund (centre) and Tyler Boyd of the Phoenix.
Alex Smith
Alex Smith on the ball for the Phoenix.
Phoenix
Sydney FC celebrate scoring against the Phoenix.
Phoenix fans
Phoenix fans show their support during the game against Sydney.
Wellington Phoenix vs Adelaide United
Louis Fenton of Pheonix and Osama Malik of Adeleide contest for the ball.
Wellington Phoenix vs Adelaide United
Bruce Djite of Adelaide is challenged by Andrew Durante of Phoenix during the round 11 A-League match between Adelaide United and the Wellington Phoenix.
Wellington Phoenix vs Adelaide United
Stein Huysegems of the Phoenix goes for a header under pressure from Osama Malik of Adelaide.
Wellington Phoenix
Manny Muscat challenges Cassio of Adelaide.
Wellington Phoenix vs Adelaide United
Paul Ifill of Phoneix is challenged by Fabio Ferreira of Adelaide during the match between Adelaide United and the Wellington Phoenix.
Phoenix v Mariners
Tyler Boyd in action for the Phoenix in their 1-1 draw with the Mariners.
Phoenix v Mariners
Jeremy Brockie takes a tumble during the match against Central Coast Mariners.
Phoenix v Mariners
Ben Sigmund gets up in the air to challenge for the ball during the 1-1 draw with the Mariners.
Phoenix v Mariners
Louis Fenton is held back by Josh Rose of the Mariners.
Phoenix v Mariners
Dani Sanchez is congratulated by teammates Andrew Durante and Alexander Smith after scoring the equaliser against the Mariners.
Phoenix vs Victory
Stein Huysegems of the Wellington Phoenix talks to the referee who gave teamate Louis Fenton a yellow card for faking a dive.
Phoenix vs Victory
Billy Celeski of the Victory and Daniel Sanchez of the Phoenix compete for the ball.
Phoenix vs Victory
Nick Ansell of the Melbourne Victory jumps on Stein Huysegems of the Wellington Phoenix.
Phoenix vs West Sydney
Jeremy Brockie with the ball agaisnt Western Sydney.
Phoenix vs Western Sydney
Daniel Sanchez attempts to make a break agaisnt Western Sydney.
Stein Huysegems misses a goal against Western Sydney.
Stein Huysegems misses a goal against Western Sydney.
Louis Fenton playing against Western Sydney.
Louis Fenton playing against Western Sydney.
Phoenix v Sydney FC
Andrew Durante reacts to conceding a penalty against Sydney FC.
Phoenix v Sydney FC
Alessandro Del Piero celebrates one of his four goals against the Phoenix.
Phoenix v Sydney FC
Alessandro Del Piero and Vince Lia compete for the ball.
Phoenix v Sydney FC
Leo Bertos of the Phoenix reacts to a Sydney goal during the round 17.
Phoenix v Sydney FC
Fabio and Tyler Boyd compete for the ball during the Phoenix's 7-1 loss to Sydney FC.
Phoenix v Newcastle
Tyler Boyd and Jets' Jobe Wheelhouse compete for the ball during the 1-1 draw.
Phoenix v Newcastle
Louis Fenton celebrates his goal against the Jets with Daniel Sanchez.
Phoenix v Newcastle
Manny Muscat and Jets' Joshua Brillante compete for the ball.
Phoenix v Newcastle
Andrew Durante gets in the way of Jets player Ryan Griffiths.
Phoenix v Perth
Phoenix players celebrate Jeremy Brockie's goal against the Perth Glory.
Phoenix v Perth
Phoenix's Stein Huysegems and Perth's Steven McGarry contest the ball.
Phoenix v Perth
Phoenix fans show their support at Eden Park.
Phoenix v Perth
Isaka Cernak heads the ball from Perth's Liam Miller in the Phoenix's 1-0 win.
Wellington Phoenix
Louis Fenton goes up for a header against Central Coast Mariners.
Wellington Phoenix
Bernie Ibini (left) and Daniel McBreen celebrate a goal for Central Coast Mariners.
Wellington Phoenix
Bernie Ibini takes on the Phoenix's Ian Hogg.
Wellington Phoenix vs Adelaide
Corey Gameiro, left, and Jeremy Brockie celebrate Brockie's goal.
Wellington Phoenix vs Adelaide
Wellington’s Jeremy Brockie, left, and Antony Golec jump for the ball.
Wellington Phoenix vs Adelaide
Antony Golec of Adelaide runs with the ball.
Wellington Phoenix vs Adelaide
Leo Bertos runs with the ball.
Phoenix v Adelaide
Phoenix fans show their support for former coach Ricki Herbert.
Phoenix v Adelaide
Jeremy Brockie of the Phoenix shows his disappointment after a missed shot at goal.
Phoenix v Adelaide
Corey Gameiro of the Phoenix tackles Ruben Zadkovich of the Jets.
Phoenix v Adelaide
Ben Sigmund has words with the referee after the Phoenix's loss to Adelaide.
Phoenix v Adelaide
Sam Gallaway of the Jets and Paul Ifill of the Phoenix compete for the ball.
Phoenix vs Wanderders
Jeremy Brockie of the Phoenix celebrates after scoring his team's first goal against Western Sydney.
Phoenix vs Wanderders
Jeremy Brockie (L) and Corey Gameiro (C) of the Phoenix celebrate after Brockie scored a goal.
Phoenix vs Wanderders
Adam D'Apuzzo of the Wanderers competes for the ball against Corey Gameiro of the Phoenix.
Phoenix vs Wanderders
Ben Sigmund of the Phoenix competes for the ball against Labinot Haliti of the Wanderers.
Wellington Phoenix
Wellington Phoenix players celebrate after scoring against Perth Glory.
Wellington Phoenix
Travelling Wellington Phoenix fans celebrate during the win over Perth Glory.
Wellington Phoenix
Leo Bertos (left) competes for the ball with Joshua Risdon of Perth Glory.

Andrew Durante says the Wellington Phoenix are struggling to find the right balance between getting results and developing a more attractive style of play.

But while talk of a "total football" revolution in the capital is overblown, the skipper believes Saturday's 1-1 draw with A-League pacesetters Central Coast represents a solid foundation for a surge up the ladder after Christmas.

Club owner Gareth Morgan's recent critique of the Phoenix as "very defensive" and his desire for change set tongues wagging.

Durante emphasised his side wouldn't shed their blue-collar ethic and a move towards a more possession-based style would take time.

"We're still trying to find that balance of playing well and keeping the ball and getting results," Durante told The Dominion Post after Saturday's game, which was played in front of another worryingly small crowd of 5961 at Westpac Stadium.

"There's been opinions left, right and centre at the moment of how we should play and the style of football but we've been playing 4-3-3 for a very, very long time.

"So we've spoken about trying to be better and every day at training we want to be better. I think you can see in the way we're playing that our football is becoming a lot better.

"But nothing's really changed, we're still a hardworking team and that's a trait that we have."

The problem is the Phoenix don't really have the players to successfully implement a short-passing game.

Goalscorer Dani Sanchez is good with the ball at his feet but Manny Muscat and Vince Lia's strengths lie in winning possession and quickly shifting play out to the wide players.

That has been the Phoenix template throughout Ricki Herbert's six-year tenure and so attempts to change the team's personality overnight would almost certainly backfire.

Teenage Kiwi wingers Tyler Boyd and Louis Fenton kept the Mariners fullbacks honest with their pace and energy but they lacked conviction with their final pass or shot.

For long stretches on Saturday the Phoenix resorted to hopeful aerial balls into the box which were dealt with comfortably before lively substitute Benjamin Totori put the ball on Sanchez's head in the 85th minute.

"We're finding it hard to get that balance," Durante admitted.

"But if everyone can stay patient I'm sure that the good football and the good results will be just around the corner.

"It's up and down at the moment and I don't know why, but we're working hard at training to make us a better team. Ricki's training us quite hard and everyone wants to improve, no-one wants to be criticised and out in the press about how we're travelling."

The Phoenix remain seventh after 12 rounds, which is not good enough for a squad more talented than the one that finished fourth last season.

Sixth-placed Newcastle are three points clear after beating Sydney FC, but the Phoenix have a royal opportunity to make up ground on Thursday.

Eighth-placed Melbourne Heart will come to town "distraught" after Archie Thompson scored deep into injury time to pinch a 2-1 Victory win in Saturday's derby.

All White Marco Rojas had another superb match for the Victory, finishing a sweeping movement for their first goal and putting a slide-rule pass through to Thompson to break the Heart.

"They (the players) are distraught," said Heart coach John Aloisi.

"But we've got a game in a few days against Wellington and we've got to pick ourselves up and get on with it."

The Heart will also be without suspended centre backs Simon Colosimo and Patrick Gerhardt for the trip, making it a virtual must-win for the Phoenix.

Aloisi flagged youngster David Vrankovic and Irishman Steven Gray as their likely replacements.

Advertisement

Stuff