Andrew Durante admitted the struggle to get to grips with Wellington Phoenix’s new playing style is starting to take its toll on the players.
The Phoenix suffered their third consecutive loss on Sunday, going down 2-0 to Western Sydney Wanderers as missed opportunities in front of goal and defensive blunders cost them yet again.
The mid-season switch to play a more open, fluid and attractive brand of football rather than sticking to the long-ball tactics that has got them to three successive finals series has resulted in a drop in confidence in the players.
They are struggling to adapt to the new formation and requirements of a slick passing game and are missing the suspended Manny Muscat and injured Paul Ifill.
“It’s a whole new style and when you’re not winning games confidence drops and then maybe people don’t want to come and get the ball and people don’t go into positions because they don’t want to make mistakes,” Durante said.
“It’s just a big snowball effect. I think you can see that the boys are a bit down on confidence. A loss at home like this doesn’t really help it either.
“I think before this whole formation thing and new style of football got going we were traveling OK.
“I think this bombshell has maybe rattled a few people. All I know is that the boys are trying so hard to turn this around and no-one wants to be in this slump.”
Life is not going to get any easier for the Phoenix skipper. Sydney FC’s win over Melbourne Heart means Ricki Herbert’s side are now rooted to the bottom of the A-League table.
“My missus says I’m pretty grumpy and not to bring my problems home. But it’s hard,” Durante said.
“I don’t want to be in this position. No-one wants to be in this position. It does affect life outside of football.
“Football is our life and we want to be good at it and we want to impress the crowds and we want to win games. At the moment it’s not happening and it’s tough to take all-round.”
Herbert however, is adamant that there will be no change of heart and a return to the old ways, and that players will have to adapt or move on.
“The directive has been put out there and I’ve been very supportive of that. We’ve just got to get better at it,” he declared.
“You’re extracting every ounce of potential out of the players every week. Some will come on the journey, some won’t.
“We’ve got a few players who will go into contract negotiations. That’s always a difficult time of year now, but we’re not the only club going through that.
“But to play that way you’ve got to have certain types of players.”
While the losses may be getting harder to take, Durante understands the need to forge ahead with the changes.
“For the future of the football club, this is the way it’s got to be. We just have to grin and bear it and just get on with it,” he said.
“This is the future of the football club, the style of football they want to implement.
“It’s kind of been thrown on us. It’s quite hard to do that (change mid-season) and I feel sorry for everyone involved.
“But it’s a challenge. It’s a great challenge. We want to create a better brand of football at the club and it’s positive. It’s just taking us a while to get it all together.”
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