Wellington Phoenix’s failure last season will drive the squad forward this campaign, said midfielder Alex Rufer.
Rufer has played 56 games for the Kiwis since joining in 2013 and has spoken about his desire to avoid another repeat of 2018/2019. They lost their last four A-League games before being spanked 3-1 by Melbourne Victory in the elimination final.
2019/2020 has been going better and Wellington are sitting in fourth place - but just lost 4-2 against Perth Glory and have only won once in their last three games after making it nine games unbeaten.
This Time Will Be Different
But Alex Rufer doesn’t think that’s going to happen this time around, and credits a better squad depth and increased experience for his optimism.
“That hurt last year, we were good and close but not good enough and slipped up right at the end.”
“But now were in a good spot and were in good form,” said Rufer. “With the team we have and the depth of players I can see us doing really. Who is to say when you’re six you cant win?”
Head coach Ufux Talay has spoken about trying to make the top six as his goal for the campaign. Phoenix are currently punching above that, but that keeps things in perspective as they are only two points above Brisbane Roar in sixth and three above Western United in seventh.
Another Tough Day
Melbourne City are up on Saturday and that game will be a test of how Talay has got the team playing. The Glory game was a big disappointment, especially to lose 4-2 after chasing the third goal in search of a draw.
City have scored lots but concede as well, and that should have Gary Hooper licking his lips. Hooper scored two against Perth after coming off the bench and doesn’t want to repeat that experience again.
“It was disappointing not to start but that’s football,” said the star. “But with quality crosses coming into the box, the striker is confident he can hit the back of the net on a regular basis.”
He added: “The service is there, its just doing it on match day and getting a little luck in the box.”