The winless Wellington Phoenix are rooted to the bottom of the A-League ladder five games into the tenure of new manager Ufuk Talay, but he remains positive because of the quality of the team’s football.
The Phoenix secured their first point of the season over the weekend with a 1-1 draw in Melbourne against the Victory, a performance Talay was happy with.
“I think first half we were very good against Melbourne Victory, second half we also have to think the players have lost four games on the trot so probably want to retain that 1-nil score which made us drop a lot deeper,” he said.
“At the end of the day it was a good performance, we got a point out of it, and we move forward from that.”
Prior to that, the Phoenix had been the wrong side of four losses, all with a margin of a single goal.
“I think that’s been the frustrating side of things. We’ve been playing well, performing well, just haven’t been turning that into results, which is most important,” he said.
The close margins in each of the defeats was no consolation to Talay.
“For me there’s no difference between losing 5-nil and 1-nil. A loss is a loss at the end of the day. But performance-wise it’s a new group, we’re building well,” he said.
“There’s a lot of progress in the group, lot of understanding of playing with each other and that’s what we need. We need consistency in the group.”
Statistics pained a rosier picture than the A-League table, Talay said.
“We’re very good in the stats, maintaining possession, most passes, most crosses, most shots on target, or most attempts at goal.”
“But the most important one is the scoreboard at the end of the day. That’ll come in time. We’ve got to be patient, but I believe this group can achieve big things.”
Talay said those stats meant there was still a real positivity around the club, which will host fellow strugglers Brisbane Roar next Saturday after a bye this week.
"I think there’s been positivity because of the football we’ve been playing, if we were getting dominated by the opposition and losing week in week out it’d be a different story but we’ve played against the top teams,” he said.
“We’ve played against Sydney, we dominated Sydney away from home as well, and the football for me has been great. The end product hasn’t been good which is the most important part of getting results in football, but at the end of the day it’s a process.
“It’s also this season, but it’s a long-term process as well of playing young players, having consistency moving forward not just for this season but the season after that as well.”
One thing that would not be on the agenda is additional finishing practising as the Phoenix tried to turn statistical domination into goals.
“I think sometimes we need to starve them of it. We probably do it too often at training where we do a lot of finishing drills,” he said.
“Training’s different to the game. Game there’s pressure, there’s opponents, opponents are moving, ball is moving, so it’s different pressure in game time.
“We work on all these things, we work on defending, you’ve got to cover all bases at training and we do everything. So it’s just up to the player to execute on game day.”