As challenges go Wellington Phoenix’ visit to Etihad Stadium on Monday night for the round four Hyundai A-League clash with Melbourne Victory is up there with the toughest
As challenges go Wellington Phoenix- visit to Etihad Stadium on Monday night for the round four Hyundai A-League clash with Melbourne Victory is up there with the toughest.
The Phoenix have never won in Melbourne and have invariably struggled, especially at Etihad.
Their tormenter in the early days was Ernie Merrick who guided the Victory to three grand finals, winning two and losing the other on penalties.
Merrick now has the reins at the Phoenix and while the signs for the future are promising it will take a mighty effort from the Wellington side to get something from the game.
Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante is excited by the change of playing style Merrick is encouraging at the club and believes his team is up for the challenge.
“Of course it will be a big challenge on Monday, Victory are a very good side, especially at home,” Durante said.
“We have shown glimpses of what we are capable of in all three games we-ve played, but haven-t managed to dominate a game for 90 minutes.
“We are working really hard on the training pitch and hopefully it comes together on Monday.
“In the last couple of games we-ve started slowly which hasn-t helped and we will try to get out of the traps quickly this week.”
With Ange Postecoglu taking over as Socceroos coach former Victory skipper Kevin Muscat has been given the coaching reins and Durante believes he will slip easily into the role.
“It isn-t your normal scenario where a coach gets sacked and a new guy comes in,” he said.
“I don-t think Victory will lose anything with Kevin In charge.
“He has served a good apprenticeship in being assistant to different coaches, and in Ange he has worked with one of the best you can have.
“Kevin will have the respect of the players and I-m sure he will continue to have Victory playing the same style they have in the past.”
That scenario is in contrast to what is happening at the Phoenix with Merrick encouraging an attacking, passing game rather than the defensive, long ball style the Phoenix had in the past.
“We are playing a completely different style and it is an exciting change,” Durante said.
“It is such a big change it will take a little time for us to hit our straps 100 per cent, but we will be giving it a good shot on Monday.”