Merrick’s Patience Being Tested


Ernie Merrick is a patient coach but that trait is being severely tested as the Phoenix continue to search for their first win after drawing 0-0 with Western Sydney Wanderers at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.

There has been plenty to admire about the way the Wellington team has gone about its job in the first seven games, but a lack of composure in front of goal has meant four draws that could, and should, have been turned into three-pointers.

Even midfielder Carlos Hernandez, one of the deadliest finishers in the league during his time at Melbourne Victory, fluffed his lines when presented with a great opportunity in the first half.

With everyone in the stadium expecting to see the net bulge as Hernandez received the ball on the edge of the six-yard box the Costa Rican international scuffed his shot wide.

When the home side did get shots on target Ante Covic kept them at bay with fine saves, just as he had done when the teams met in Sydney earlier in the season.

Covic was beaten in the last minute of injury time but Paul Ifill-s shot hit the upright and bounced to safety, which is the way it has been going for the Phoenix all season.

“I-m a patient coach and I feel we are playing good football and improving in a range of areas, but to create chances as we did inside the six-yard box and not put them away is disappointing for the whole team,” Merrick said.

“There were several positives. I thought our back line was outstanding while in midfield Carlos, till he was injured, and Vince Lia went well, but everyone will feel a lot better about the way they are playing when they start scoring goals.

“It isn-t as though we don-t work hard enough on shooting in training, but sometimes in games you tend to snatch at chances that you are composed over in training.

“Playing as you train is the key to high performance.

“Our strategy is fine as evidenced by the number of chances we create, but the bottom line is to be scoring goals.”

The Phoenix now look ahead to Friday-s game in Perth and will be anxiously waiting to see how Hernandez and Albert Riera, who both limped out of Sunday-s game in the second half, recover.

Manny Muscat, who had a fine game at left back, will miss the long trip after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, much to Merrick-s frustration.