Michael Brown: Morgan like a cat on a hot tin roof

42 comments
Gareth Morgan. Photo / Getty Images.
Gareth Morgan. Photo / Getty Images.

First it was cats, now it's Wellington Phoenix supporters.

Football fans might wonder if they are in the category of vermin after Gareth Morgan's outrageous outburst on Radio Sport, when he labelled the attitude of Phoenix fans "pathetic" and hoped they could be more "sophisticated".

There's no better way for a football club to alienate its fanbase than by attacking them and Morgan seems to be doing his best to emulate former Gold Coast owner Clive Palmer who set a new standard in offending.

Palmer's foray with the A-League, of course, didn't end well. His club were cut from the league for constant breaches of FFA rules and regulations.

It didn't help Morgan that his comments were made before last weekend's embarrassing club record 7-1 defeat to Sydney FC but aired only this morning. He was correct in his assertions that Wellington had played well in the first half of their previous two games but his aggressive tone was ill-conceived.

It has left the club in a sticky situation. They aren't acting from a position of strength, given the fact they have lost their last four matches, and sit on the bottom of the A-League ladder when most thought they would be sitting near the top this season.

Naturally, Morgan's comments have not gone down well with fans who previously had to endure the chaotic years under former owner Terry Serepisos.

"What incentive is there to come and support the team when the team is not performing and fans are getting an ear-bashing from the owner?" Yellow Fever spokesman Guy Smith asked.

Phoenix general manager David Dome has been left to try to pick up the pieces. Coach Ricki Herbert and the players will front media tomorrow and will enjoy that about as much as trying to herd cats.

"The important thing is we are looking at a three to five-year plan to turn the club around on the field and the style of football we want to play," Dome said. "Sometimes the short-term and long-term objectives don't always align perfectly and there's no doubt there's frustration from the fans group around that. As a club, we are very appreciative of support we get from our fans and what they add to the matchday experience."

Morgan's intentions, no matter how misguided, are genuine. He is one of the most strident members of the Welnix group which owns the club and has also invested some of his personal fortune into the academy when others are more circumspect.

He is also passionate about the club and can often be seen in the crowd - even taking off his shirt on the increasingly rare occasions when Yellow Fever members get to carry out their ritual of stripping off after the 80th minute of games they're winning.

But he also speaks his mind, and that's getting him into trouble, especially as he is critical of the fact "a lot of [fans] don't know much about the game anyway" when he knows little himself.

Morgan has the bigger picture in mind and is comfortable if the side miss the playoffs if it means long-term success. "We have to make this team sustainable and more successful than just making the playoffs," he said.

He has also previously said he wants the team to play "total football", an impossible goal when the true meaning is considered, and that's when things started going badly for him.

It has been widely reported that Morgan demanded the change of Herbert when he went public with his vision, but it was Herbert who presented plans for a change in style when he was asked by the board and owners to outline his long-term plan.

The club agreed and Herbert has implemented changes since.

They have not, however, been as bold as many believe. They still play with the same 4-3-3 formation they have for a number of seasons and still rely heavily on getting the ball into the box from wide areas.

The difference is that it marked a poor run of results and, for that, Morgan should shoulder some of the blame.

- APNZ

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 26 Nov 2014 11:08:28 Processing Time: 476ms