Wellington Phoenix fired up by Aussie apathy

DOMINION POST | Normally an unflappable chap, Ernie Merrick was a little cranky on Tuesday.

Normally an unflappable chap, Ernie Merrick was a little cranky on Tuesday.

The Wellington Phoenix coach took skipper Andrew Durante and new signing Nathan Burns with him to the A-League launch in Sydney as the competition prepares for lift-off in season 10 tomorrow night.

But, not for the first time, New Zealand's only professional football team flew away feeling a little unloved.

"At the A-League launch, the interesting thing is that the Wellington Phoenix are well liked by everyone but nobody really cares about us," said Merrick, back home at Newtown Park yesterday.

"It's almost like: 'They're a nice bunch of blokes, not a bad team ... ' They don't hate us, they don't think we're a fantastic team, it's just apathy. Andrew Durante and I said: 'We've got to change this perception and the only way we can do it is on the field and it's time that we made a statement.' So that's what we have to do this year, we have to make a statement by getting in the finals, first of all, and then taking it from there."

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