Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante says he has endured a month of trying to justify club part-owner Gareth Morgan's assertions, and has given up.
Durante, speaking after today's training session at Newtown Park, said he and his team-mates will no longer comment on any of the football-related views aired by Morgan.
But the skipper was prepared to go into bat for the club's loyal fan base, whose expectations and understanding of football have been questioned by Morgan. The Phoenix host the Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium on Sunday afternoon and Durante urged any wavering supporters to stick with the team.
''If I can say my part to the fans, get out there, support the team, you'll see a much better performance from us and we don't want to let them down regardless of what Gareth said,'' Durante said, in reference to last weekend's shocking 7-1 loss to Sydney FC.
''As players, we want you guys out there and Yellow Fever and everyone involved at the Cake Tin. You are very important to us and if we're going to get out of this, we kind of need everyone pulling in the same direction - fans included.
''I love the fans, the fans are great. We're not much of a football club without fans so, like I said, I hope you all get out there and support us because we need it.''
The Phoenix are last in the league, with 10 rounds remaining, but Durante is adamant that the side can lift itself from the bottom of the table and into the top-six playoffs.
Their slide down the ladder has coincided with Morgan's public call for more creative football, but Durante believes the team have to rise above the disruption that those comments caused.
''I refuse to let this formation [change] and everything be an excuse for us. It's almost an easy way out.''
- The Dominion Post