Honesty sessions for flat-lining Wgtn Phoenix
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.