Hon­esty ses­sions for flat-lin­ing Wgtn Phoenix

The Press - - Sport - LIAM HYSLOP

Dar­ije Kalezic will be try­ing his ut­most to drag the Welling­ton Phoenix out of their early-sea­son rut.

The head coach’s first sea­son in charge hasn’t started as he would have hoped, with just one win from their first eight games as they sit last on the Hyundai A-League lad­der.

They play Bris­bane Roar on the Gold Coast on Satur­day as they look to re­bound from two poor home de­feats against the Cen­tral Coast Mariners (4-1) and Mel­bourne Vic­tory (3-2). The past week has fea­tured a few ‘‘open and hon­est’’ meet­ings be­tween the play­ers and coach­ing staff, Kalezic said.

They were des­per­ately needed after the 48-year-old said after Sun­day’s loss that ‘‘we don’t have a team with win­ners’’.

As much as Kalezic has been re­spon­si­ble for the on-field prod­uct this sea­son, he also ac­knowl­edged the sit­u­a­tion he walked into when join­ing the Phoenix.

‘‘We have to move for­ward with the team, we have to move for­ward with the club,’’ he said in re­sponse to a ques­tion about whether Brazil­ian mid­fielder Gui Fin­kler would be re­leased in Jan­uary.

‘‘We strug­gle for years and years as a club, the whole coun­try cre­ates an opin­ion about the Phoenix which I didn’t cre­ate and has not been cre­ated in the last three months, but in the last years.

‘‘Opin­ion about the Phoenix you know bet­ter than me and every­body knows bet­ter than me, but now I also know.’’

On Fin­kler, Kalezic said he would not be in the match­day squad to play the Roar, but was likely to re­main at the club for the rest of the sea­son.

‘‘We need the play­ers who are go­ing to work hard for the club to help the club to find the right di­rec­tion and travel in the right di­rec­tion,’’ Kalezic said.

‘‘Every­body, if it’s staff mem­ber or who­ever, who put his own in­ter­est at the front of the club in­ter­est, they can­not help us in that way.

‘‘The way is com­ing that the Phoenix go in the right di­rec­tion, ob­vi­ously it’s a hard process. I am not here to be pop­u­lar, I am here to do my job. To­gether with the board and every­body here, we will do it.’’ It was strong talk from Kalezic, who has quickly es­tab­lished him­self as an un­wa­ver­ingly hon­est coach, both pub­licly and pri­vately, who is un­afraid to say what he thinks, even if it might ruf­fle a few feathers.

One would imag­ine that led to some pretty ro­bust dis­cus­sions tak­ing place be­hind closed doors in those team meet­ings, but Kalezic said he was happy with the re­sponse of the play­ers.

‘‘We talk open and hon­est with each other about the is­sues we have in the first round in the league.

‘‘A cou­ple of things from the pre-sea­son, be­fore the be­gin­ning of com­pe­ti­tion, has an in­flu­ence on ev­ery­thing that hap­pens in the first round. We know that, that’s ob­vi­ous, but we looked each other in the eyes and talk as men.

‘‘The play­ers un­der­stand ev­ery­thing I say and what we talk about. It’s ob­vi­ous we have to im­prove our level, a cou­ple of per cent higher, to keep the ad­van­tage in the game and to win the game.’’

Kalezic con­firmed both Michael McGlinchey and Roy Kr­ishna would not play on Satur­day, the for­mer with a groin in­jury and the lat­ter a knee is­sue.

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