Rejuvenated Phoenix need a nine to stitch up attacking woes

On paper, it suits Wellington’s key players, but on the pitch Ernie Merrick’s tactical setup currently lacks balance and solidity both structurally and strategically at both ends of the pitch.

Ernie Merrick’s touchline demeanour is typically mild, but when it has come to speaking publicly about his side this season he has been unexpectedly buoyant. Every coach feels optimistic going into a new A-League season but Merrick’s enthusiasm felt particularly genuine after an off-season characterised by fresh rejuvenation in Wellington.

The two biggest new faces arrived from the Victory. Kosta Barbarouses and Guilherme Finkler were exciting upgrades in attack. The former, in particular, was a high-profile coup given he had been at the top of his game in Melbourne and was lured home by the promise of the Phoenix project. Unsurprisingly, Merrick has chosen to build his side around the two new attackers.

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By Tim Palmer

Tim is a football coach, writer, analyst and sports scientist. He is currently Assistant Technical Director, Head of Player Development & Video and a coach at NWSF Spirit, as well as working with the Pararoos. Previously, he has worked as an analyst with the Socceroos, and in the A-League.

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