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Greenacre wants Phoenix to play for pride

Wellington Phoenix assistant coach Chris Greenacre says there is still plenty to play for during the remainder of the season.

Wellington Phoenix assistant coach Chris Greenacre says there is still plenty to play for during the remainder of the season.

Wednesday night’s 2-1 defeat to the Newcastle Jets means the Phoenix are left with the role of trying to spoil other clubs’ finals chances against Melbourne Heart, Western Sydney Wanderers, Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory in the coming weeks.

Greenacre, who is in charge until the end of the season following Ricki Herbert’s resignation at the start of the week, has already promised the players will do everything it takes to avoid finishing bottom.

Right-back Leo Bertos also want to see some pride restored after a terrible season that began with talks of being title contenders but has descended into a series of lacklustre performances punctuated by defensive lapses and wasted chances in front of goal.

“We need to show a bit of pride in our own performances and a bit of pride for the club and the shirt. That’s the least we owe,” said the Wellington-born defender who was sad to see Herbert leave after being signed by him in 2008 and playing under him in the New Zealand side as well.

“We just need to work hard. That’s all we can ask. Obviously luck changes and things can change in football pretty quickly but we just need to work hard and keep going and hopefully we can win the rest of the games.”

Bertos is one of several players off contract at the end of the season so he is fighting for his livelihood too.

Others in the same boat are Tony Lochhead, Mark Paston, Dani Sanchez, Benjamin Totori, Stuart Downey, Ian Hogg and Alex Smith.

“It’s just a matter of playing well and if you do that then you should deserve something,” said Bertos.

Downey hasn’t featured at all this season, while Hogg, Smith and Totori have seen their opportunities curtailed as the campaign has worn on.

Bertos acknowledges the regular starters were lucky to have been given as many chances as they were by Herbert as the losses started to mount.

But he believes these last four games represent a fresh a start for the players.

“Those players that haven’t been involved in the squad they’ve got good opportunities to prove themselves and try and play the rest of the season,” he said.

“There are a few guys who are out of contract too, like myself, so we’ve got to play well to make sure we can earn another one.

“We’ve got a big game this Sunday down in Dunedin and we’ve got to bounce back.

“We’ve got to show the fans that we’re not going to die and we’re going to give it our best shot and try and win the rest of the games.”

Fri 1 March, 2013
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