Not all doom and gloom for winless Phoenix
THE stats show the Phoenix has at least been improving this season, if not winning or even scoring, according to coach Ernie Merrick.
Now the Wellington club just needs the most impressive attacking roster in its 10-year history to start putting the ball in the net to get them off the bottom of the A-League.
But that will not be easy as the Phoenix attempts to beat the Victory tomorrow in Melbourne, a city where it has a particularly poor record.
It has won just once in 14 visits to the Victory, losing 10 times, with three draws.
But despite failing to earn a point or even score a goal in its first three games, it's not all doom and gloom for Merrick's men. It was the better side for large parts of its last game against league leader Sydney FC a week ago before conceding an injury-time goal.
Midfielder Michael McGlinchey believes the Phoenix was the dominant side against the Sky Blues.
"I think they'd even say that,” he said. "We were unfortunate with two offside calls that went against us.
"We're still creating the chances, we're still getting in behind and we're still doing what we need to be doing. We just need that little bit of luck and I'm sure we'll get it.”
Merrick has been crunching the numbers and using them to demonstrate to his team the improvement in its performances.
"I showed them the stats from the first (three games),” he said. "The amount of possession has gone from 45% to 60%. The number of passes has gone from 322 in the first game to 440. The amount of successful passing in the front half has improved each week. We didn't get the goals; that will certainly finish things off.
"We have to build on that performance from last week. I thought it was outstanding - first-class pressure, good positional play, good front-half football and lots of opportunities in the 18-yard box.”
The Victory hasn't been its normal dominant self this season. A scratchy first-up draw with Brisbane was followed by a 4-1 hammering in the Melbourne derby. It then had Marco Rojas to thank for its first win of the season last Saturday, with the All Whites international scoring in the final minute to give it a 2-1 win at Adelaide.
The A-League isn't won or lost in October. Defending champion Adelaide was winless through its first eight games of last season and a distant last heading into December before storming up the table with a 14-game unbeaten run.
Merrick is likely to make only one change to his starting 11, with left-back Tom Doyle, ruled out with a hamstring niggle, to be replaced by Adam Parkhouse. Victory will be without captain Carl Valeri but could welcome back attacker James Troisi after collarbone surgery.