As we head towards Christmas I got to thinking just what Ernie Merrick would be asking Santa to deposit under the tree on the 25th.
The first one is an obvious one I’m sure. A win. Any type of win but three points would be very welcome and Ernie would be happy not to have to unwrap it at Christmas. He’d take it as an early Christmas present.
A scrappy 1-0 win with a scuffed shot off the shin would do nicely. While winning playing attractive football is the ultimate, three points, any way they come would suffice.
And it’s not that a win, and following that a decent run of results, is out of the question. There have been periods in most games this season when the Phoenix have outplayed their opposition and deserved more than what they eventually got from the game. The Sydney loss was a heartbreaker and there have been others when the Phoenix have looked very, very good but have not been able to get across the line.
And one win has a funny way of becoming two, then three pretty quickly.
Another thing that Ernie is probably keen to see wrapped up under the tree is a decent dose of good luck.. Because from what I’ve seen so far there ain’t been much luck falling the way of the boys in yellow and black. And with luck comes wins.
Just what is luck? According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, luck is “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one-s own actions”. Kinda like Tiger Woods shanking his tee shot into the trees only to see the ball bounce out and land a few centimetres from the hole.
There’s been plenty of luck in football in recent years. No one can tell me that Chelsea won the Champions League a season or two back through breathtaking skill and preparation. How they rode their luck against Barcelona in the semi finals and then Bayern Munich in the final defied belief.
When you look through the results this year involving the Phoenix, you could assume that a dose of luck is due to go their way sooner rather than later. Sure there have been occasions when the side has been its own worst enemy e.g. that forgettable first half against Victory in Melbourne, the opening 25 minutes of the draw with Western Sydney Wanderers in Sydney and the last period of the game away in Perth. However I’d argue with anyone who cares to pick a fight that Sydney’s late 2-1 win over the Phoenix recently was a lucky win. And with seconds remaining against Western Sydney Wanderers at home, Paul Ifill strikes the outside of the post – not the inside, that would be too lucky, but the outside for a 0-0 scoreline.
So I reckon Ernie would be happy to unwrap some luck on Christmas morning.
The other present Ernie would probably quite like is for the young players to gain more experience, quickly. That’s not going to happen but it is a measure of this team and Ernie’s belief in the new faces that the side is performing well, without a winning result.
A few seasons back there were questions being asked about where the future New Zealand faces were going to come from, or was the Phoenix going to become a team of Aussies playing in New Zealand.
In those days we had the regular All Whites, Paston, Sigmund, Brown, Bertos and Lochhead and no one else really. Kosta Barbarouses and Marco Rojas popped up for a brief time before they headed for greener pastures but that was it. Slowly the old guard started to drop away and today only Sigmund and Bertos remain. However one thing that Ernie has done is to put some faith in the new brigade of Kiwis. Now we’ve got names like Fenton, Boyd, ok they were here when Ernie arrived, but added to them are Hicks, Ridenton and Rufer, a couple of famous New Zealand footballing names that, who knows, may go on to emulate their fathers.
But what Ernie needs from them right now is experience. I don’t think even Santa can given them that overnight but with time and the support and belief they get from the coaching staff, the future looks good.
But Santa, first things first, let’s have a win.