Expect changes as ‘Nix defensive woes continue

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A new A-League season has sprung however the Wellington Phoenix’s defensive afflictions remain.

Last night’s capitulation in the second half against Perth Glory marks the first time that the Phoenix have lost both of their opening A-League encounters, and as it happens, the returning All Whites were not enough to command a dominating performance.

Looking around the park it is clear to see where the ‘Nix strengths are. An abundance of pace and ball playing midfielders should, in theory, be wreaking havoc for opposition defences.

Likewise, the combination of captain Andrew Durante and Italian import Marco Rossi look an undeniably strong defensive pairing.

So why is it that both Glory and Melbourne City have found it so easy to break down this new look Phoenix side?

Positional frailties and a myriad of irrational errors have exposed gaps in the defence in both encounters and that will surely lead to changes ahead of next round’s bout against Sydney FC in Wellington.

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Too often are holes exposed in between Vince Lia and the defensive line, not aided by Gui Finkler’s inability to track back.

The result of which leaves defenders isolated in one on one situations and A-League newcomers Jacob Tratt and Adam Parkhouse have thus far struggled to cope.

It has been a case of the inexperienced players struggling to find their feet in the opening weeks, so don’t be surprised to see Ernie Merrick ring in the changes.

The Phoenix began to regain the ascendancy with the introduction of Tom Doyle at left back in the final half hour. Based on current performances it shouldn’t be long until Louis Fenton in reinstated as the starting right back.

Expect to see Michael McGlinchey dropping more centrally in the coming weeks.

A player who performed admirably in a defensive role in the All Whites 1-1 draw with United States mid-week, McGlinchey could help the Phoenix muster more composure in the middle of the park, whilst offering the bite that Finkler currently lacks.

Roly Bonevacia, also a terrific player centrally, should see more purchase as he continues to shake off the preseason hangover.

There were signs in the opening stages last night that the Phoenix have the ability to dominate sides.

To their credit the high press they implemented showed signs of life, however ultimately it succumbed as the Glory found their feet.

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It may take time for the Phoenix to recapture form, although there is too much class in this Wellington side to see them down for long.

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