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Ifill tips Phoenix to bounce back

Paul Ifill is confident Wellington Phoenix can reverse the poor form that has seen them slump to the bottom of the A-League table.

Ifill has been on the sidelines for the past four weeks following ankle surgery but will return to the squad for the trip to Sydney this weekend.

In his absence the Phoenix have drawn one, won one and lost their last three matches with last Sunday’s second half against Western Sydney Wanderers their worst effort to date.

“We’ve been in a similar situation – okay we weren’t bottom – but we’ve been in a position where the league is really tight and we’ve not been doing too great and we get the Christmas decorations down and we start playing. Hopefully that happens again,” he said.

“We’ve had some tough games straight after Christmas but we’ve got a run of games now that are definitely winnable.

“If we can get seven or nine points out of these next three games (Sydney, Newcastle and Perth) then we’re right back in it and hopefully people will be forgetting about this little blip.”

“When the chips are down that’s when we really start. We’ve been here before enough times to know that we normally get out of it. This is probably the deepest hole we’ve been in but I fancy us to get out of it. I’m not too worried yet.”

There has been plenty of discussion about the Phoenix’s mid-season attempts to play a more attractive brand of football.

The switch in style has left the players lacking confidence and second-guessing themselves on the pitch.

Defender Ben Sigmund’s mix-up with goalkeeper Mark Paston last weekend which resulted in a simple goal for Labinot Haliti was a prime example.

Ifill felt the best way to stop the rot was to get back to doing the basics well.

“Some of the things we’ve been doing – getting away from the style issue – it’s just fundamentals,” he said.

“Our defending has been poor and I’m not just blaming the back four. It starts at the front.

“We’ve just got to work harder all over the pitch and go back to basics and get that right first. Then you can start playing pretty football.

“You’ve got to earn the right to play this so-called total football. You can’t just go out there and be Barcelona from the first minute. It’s impossible.”

Ifill believes the key to lifting the players’ confidence levels would be an early goal against Sydney.

“You need someone to put it in the back of the net whether it comes off their knee or bum or something,” he said.

“You just need to get a goal early. It’s well known if we score first we don’t really get beat.

“It’s important that we try and take it to teams. This game at the weekend is massive. It’s bottom two and it’s important that we got there and get some sort of result.”

Thu 17 January, 2013
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