WELLINGTON Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante is making no excuses for his team’s disappointing performances to date in the Hyundai A-League and is adamant things can be turned around.
Five matches without a win and stung by a 1-0 away loss to Perth Glory at the weekend, the Phoenix are still seeking a breakthrough victory to breathe life into their campaign.
“To be fair we deserve criticism and no one is denying we have been well below par in terms of our performances,” Durante said, adding that head coach Ricki Herbert had been unfairly blamed for the players’ lacklustre on-field efforts.
“As a playing group we’ve talked and accepted that we’re the ones who have to shoulder the responsibility because we’re not going out there and doing the things we should be.
“Ricki has complete support of the team and we back him 100 per cent. If anyone is going to turn things around it’s Ricki. We need to stay close as a unit and be positive.”
Discussions in the wake of the Perth match had been extremely positive, Durante said.
“As individuals we recognise that we’ve been poor. We can’t point the finger at Ricki when we cross that white line because the players simply haven’t been putting in.
“Everyone has to step up. We’ve been having too many games where only two or three guys are playing to their potential while everyone else has been below par. The only way we can get things back on track is to have more guys performing the way we know they can.
“There’s been plenty of soul-searching this week and the best thing to come out of this is that the players know we have the capacity to be so much better. It’s not a case of doing anything drastic or making any knee-jerk changes, it’s more a case of playing to our potential as a team.
“When we click – and we will – we’ll match it with any team in the comp.”
The first test of that belief comes against a red-hot Sydney FC outfit at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.
“Who better to get?” Durante said. “They’re unbeaten and on a high, and to turn things around against them would be a massive confidence boost for the boys. Sometimes when you’ve got your back to the wall it can bring out the best in you.
“And we need the best from the fans, too. We know we haven’t done enough to repay the faith the fans have shown in us so far but we need their support now more than ever. If we’re united we’ll get the results.”
Sunday’s match kicks off at 5pm NZST.