Wellington Phoenix star midfielder Michael McGlinchey has urged his team-mates not to let their Finals Series chances slip by when they host Melbourne City in Sunday’s do-or-die Elimination Final.
The All Whites international has been a key figure in Phoenix’s eye-catching form in Season 10.
And he likens the current Phoenix roster to that of his former club on the Central Coast, where he won a Hyundai A-League Championship two years ago.
“We’ve got the same sort of characters in the dressing room”, said McGlinchey at Tuesday’s launch of the Finals Series in Wellington.
“[Andrew] Durante and guys like that are the equivalent of [John] Hutchinson for me.
“They’re the type of players that’ll drive the young boys through but we also need them to step up as well. It’s a whole collective team effort.”
As a veteran of playoff matches during his time in Gosford, McGlinchey has some fairly basic advice for his team-mates who are experiencing post-season A-League football for the first time.
“Try and enjoy it. You get one game a year in the finals, maybe two, maybe three. It’s rare and these are the games you want to play in.
“It’s more about enjoyment and trying to grasp it. Don’t let the opportunity slip by,” he urged.
“It’s going to be a big occasion for us. It’s more excitement than nerves that we’re going to get knocked out.
“We believe we’ve got the players and the style of football to go on.”
After topping the table in late March, the Phoenix have just one win from their last five matches, and go into the Finals Series off the back of a 2-1 home loss to Sydney FC.
But that mini-slump has coach Ernie Merrick unconcerned.
“It’s more to do with confidence than momentum,” the Phoenix boss said.
“I thought we played an outstanding game of football [against Sydney FC].
“I don’t think we were out of the Sydney half for most of the second half. If we’d got the equaliser I think we would have gone the whole way.
“By most measures as a performance it was outstanding but of course it’s all about results. From now on, it’s not about performance, it’s about results,” said Merrick.
And the coach also pointed out how much had changed during his two years in charge in Wellington.
“Last year we ended up in the bottom two and now we’re bitterly disappointed we haven’t finished in the top two. We’ve come a long way and I think we’ll give it a shake in the finals as well.
“This is a good squad with a good feeling about it.”
Phoenix host Melbourne City FC in the second elimination final on Sunday at Westpac Stadium.