Harry Ngata on Soccer

Analysis and opinion from former All White Harry Ngata

Harry Ngata: Clear strategy required in off season

Resigning Marco Rojas may be at the expense of other players. Photo / Getty Images
Resigning Marco Rojas may be at the expense of other players. Photo / Getty Images

There is a theory in sport in that you have to experience losing a final before you win one. The logic behind that is that you never want to experience that losing feeling again.

Depending on what side of the fence you sit on or how optimistic your view we could be a couple of years off at least before we can call the Phoenix champions.

They played their best game on the road against Adelaide United last week but despite dominating large chunks of the game their efforts just weren't good enough in the end. Perhaps they used up their luck when Jade North cleared a goal bound ball off his own cross bar two weeks earlier.

Adelaide have been losing finalists on a couple of occasions. Notably getting thumped 6-0 by the Victory in 2007 and then losing an Asian Champions League final the following year. Maybe this is to be their year where they will be crowned champions though I do feel that the Brisbane Roar are in the box seat so far.

The Phoenix's season was dogged by inconsistent performances and a torrid away record. Off the pitch issues have also been a distraction. There's no doubting that given a fit squad they are good enough to go further than this season suggests.

If you look at their results the recurring theme goes a little something like this. Draw, win, loss, loss, win, draw, loss and so on. It is not until round 25 that they were able to register back to back wins. Their first win away came in round 13.

So, where to from here?

There are two internationals against China and Japan coming up in late March for the All Whites. I'd imagine players will not have to report for the new season until June so a lengthy off season could see some trying to secure short term deals elsewhere.

I'd also think this break would be a warmly welcome by some who have endured Confederations Cup and World Cup commitments on consecutive years.

Loan spells will obviously elevate the wage bill for a few months somewhat though the ownership arrangement that Terry Serepisos has been working on from a recent trip to Switzerland doesn't look like getting ticked off for a month or two.

Unfortunately this is not ideal in terms of negotiating with out of contract players. Off the top of my head this includes Dylan Macallister, Tony Lochhead, Nick Ward, Diego and Marco Rojas to name a few.
Some of these guys are essential signings for the club and I'm not sure what position the club will be in to enter into contract talks without the 'bigger picture' stuff being confirmed or whether in their mind they can afford to secure better players. Many have families and responsibilities not to mention the potential prospect of seeking employment at another club.

Confirmed departures are Danny Vukovic to Perth, Troy Hearfield to the Central Coast Mariners and Jade North who is entertaining a move back to Asia. With this in mind you would think a goalkeeper, central defender, right back are all on the shopping list as would be a striker.

This list could grow if the Phoenix fail to secure some of the key names above and you would think only top dollar would secure a quality striker - thinking Shane Smeltz. Word is he's close to signing for Perth.

Marco Rojas's name crops up a lot when talking about the future of the Phoenix. Unfortunately you can't please everybody all the time and you have to come to terms that you will lose players and for Phoenix fans losing Marco Rojas would be devastating.

Especially after the loss of Smeltz a couple of years ago and Kosta Barbarouses who has flourished at the Roar and has had a fantastic season. I certainly hope they find whatever they need to keep Rojas at the Phoenix.

Unfortunately like most things there is a trade off and perhaps resigning Rojas may be at the expense of other players - who knows. I suppose time will tell.

- NZ Herald

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