Team Hits Back

Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante today hit back after a newspaper article accused the team of being unprofessional.

The article, by former Gisborne City National League player Paul Thompson, focussed on the team-s poor away record and the fact that the Phoenix has taken just five points from a possible 39 on the road.

Thompson said the root cause of such a poor record was a lack of professionalism.

Durante said he and his team-mates had no problem with their away form attracting criticism, but for someone to question their professionalism was disrespectful.

“It was hurtful,” Durante said as the team prepared for tonight-s game against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.

“It was really disappointing to read something like that. I wouldn-t normally respond but the players weren-t happy to read that.

“We are only too aware that our performances on the road haven-t been up to scratch and we can cop it on the chin.

“We have been trying everything we can to turn it around but it isn-t easy.

“Every team that travels to New Zealand finds it difficult as shown by the fact only two have won in about 30 games at Westpac. There is the time spent travelling and sitting in airports, along with the time difference, and then you have to step up and straight into a high-paced A-League game.

“It isn-t easy, but saying there is a lack of professionalism suggests we are off to the beach and out shopping when we are away.

“That couldn-t be further from the truth.

“I was part of the Newcastle Jets title-winning side and if anything the level of professionalism at the Phoenix is a little higher than it was there, simply because of the travelling we do.

“We do everything possible to ensure our bodies are in peak condition. There are lots of recovery and injury prevention sessions. We travel in skins and have regular massages.

“The club has given us every chance to do well on the road. We are still in the six and if we make the semis -which we are in the box seat to do – it will be an away trip so we will have to step up.”

Coach Ricki Herbert said after listening to Durante and his team-mates express their sincere disappointment with what had been written about them he 100 per cent agreed with their feelings.