Transition year or title chase?
Wed, 24 Oct 2012 6:43p.m.
By Andrew Gourdie
A strong pre-season, solid recruitment and a settled ownership structure seem to be paying off for the Wellington Phoenix.
The only unbeaten team in the competition after three rounds, the Phoenix are enjoying their best ever start to an A-League season.
But there are mixed messages coming from the club about their aspirations for the campaign. Before the season started, pundits across the Tasman were touting the Wellington Phoenix as favourites for the wooden spoon.
As always, Ricki Herbert is out to prove the doubters wrong, but he's coy about his goals for the season.
"Finish as high as we can. You know we want to be right up there," says Herbert.
On and off the field, the Phoenix are in better shape than they've ever been. But after Sunday's 1-1 draw with defending champions Brisbane Roar, Herbert curiously described this as a ‘transition year’ for the club.
“Just with the academy and the way that's blossoming, I think it's just great for the club that it's expanding,” Herbert said.
The Phoenix have reached the A-league playoffs for the last three years in a row. Herbert says another finals appearance would be great, but the skipper is talking tough.
“Anything less than [the playoffs] would be a disgrace really,” says Durante.
“It's definitely not a year where we'll just be happy to be in the playoffs and that's it. We really want to push for it and I think and I think Ricki believes as well, we all believe we've got the squad to do that,” he says.
Andrew Durante is aiming for a top-two finish, before launching an assault at the title.
“I think this is a year that we can probably take it,” he says.
After missing Sunday's match through illness, Durante is fit for Saturday's trip to face league leaders Adelaide United. He says the team is facing every road trip with a new mindset.
“We're really confident and I feel we can beat anyone anywhere,” he says.
With four of the next five games across the Tasman, that's the attitude the team will need to achieve their ultimate goal.
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