Phoenix won’t change for finals

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May 01, 2015 11:45:55 UK

Phoenix boss Ernie Merrick.

Experience has taught Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick that changing the team’s approach going into Sunday’s elimination final would be a mistake.

The Kiwis thrashed City 5-1 at Westpac Stadium in November, and with the visitors having lost six of their last nine away matches the form guide suggests Merrick’s team will progress.

The coach has his previous experience with Melbourne Victory to fall back on when planning how to tackle the Finals Series. He is the most successful coach in the league, having won the double of premiership and championship twice in three seasons with Victory.

The two-time A-League coach of the year said: “I remember being at Victory and players wanting to do something different in the week leading up to the Grand Final, I was adamant we did the same thing and focused on strengths.

“We focused on increasing intensity, but not volume, we tried to replicate game intensity, but you don’t want to overdo it.”

Merrick attributes the Phoenix’s success this season to the recruitment of quality players and developing a winning mindset.

Having finished next to bottom last season, the club went out and signed the likes of Nathan Burns, Michael McGlinchey and Roly Bonevacia.

Burns finished second in the Golden Boot award with 13 goals and was named the A-League’s player of the year this week by the Australian media, McGlinchey has had an outstanding season and Bonevacia has also added attacking quality.

McGlinchey won the Grand Final with Central Coast Mariners and skipper Andrew Durante did likewise with Newcastle Jets. That experience stands Wellington in good stead for the finals, says Merrick, as does the players’ mental approach.

“We set a challenge to be in the top six, we got in the top four and almost got in the top two, that’s because of the mindset and good quality of recruitment,” he added.

Wellington expect keeper Glen Moss, who missed last weekend’s defeat to Sydney FC to play on Sunday.

Wellington Phoenix are 2.10 to win their play-off clash with Melbourne City on Sunday.

A win for City is 3.30 and a draw is available at 3.50.

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