Breakdown: Mariners and Wellington share tactics out of left field

Michael McGlinchey was inevitably central in the build-up to the clash between his old and new club, but also proved literally central to the game’s tactical battle.

Wellington Phoenix have undergone something of an understated revolution under Ernie Merrick, who has transitioned them from a combative, physical team into a more proactive, technical side, with a new emphasis on short, neat passing football epitomised by a midfield containing Albert Riera, Roly Bonevacia and Alex Rodriguez, as opposed to players like Manny Muscat and Vince Lia.

Merrick isn’t particularly fussed about pure ball retention, however. “You have to keep the ball, certainly, but you have to get forward with the ball and into goalscoring positions,” he says. “Controlling possession around the opposition penalty area is the important statistic.”

Therefore, McGlinchey is the side’s key player – starting from a wide left position, but drifting inside to become a #10, with the freedom to move where he pleases.

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