'We can’t score': Babbel’s simple assessment of Wanderers' woes
Western Sydney Wanderers boss Markus Babbel concedes his side will not turn their season around until they can consistently find the back of the net.
The Wanderers continued their woeful run of results with a second consecutive defeat on Saturday as they fell 2-0 to Wellington Phoenix on the back of goals from Ulises Davila and Liberato Cacace
Despite dominating attacking possession in the second half of the contest – and fashioning 14 shots to the Phoenix’s eight - the Wanderers rarely truly troubled the Phoenix goal as they were shut-out at Sky Stadium.
Babbel’s side have won now won just once in their past ten Hyundai A-League matches and the former German international said the equation is simple if his side are to recapture the form that saw them unbeaten from their first four games of the season.
“We could play two hours more and we can’t score – this is a problem,” Babbel said.
“This a game, and it doesn’t matter how you play, if you have one more goal than the opposite side then everyone is happy.
“This is our biggest problem at the moment – we can’t score, we aren’t scoring enough goals."
Babbel has tinkered with his formation and personnel through the Wanderers struggles in recent months – including dropping lukewarm attacker Alex Meier from the clash with the Phoenix – without success.
He said the impetus remains on the players to find a path to goal and called for greater creativity in the attacking third.
“Play with freedom, especially in the front third. I always say to the boys ‘take the risk, take the chances that you get, don’t stop believing'," Babbel said.
“They tried but at the moment the ball don’t want to go into the net from the opposite side and if you do mistakes at the back – today not many, but too much – then you lose the game.”
With frustration building, the Wanderers turned to a trio of youngsters in Nick Sullivan, Kostandinos Grozos and Ali Auglah in the second half to try and unlock the organised Phoenix.
Babbel will consider delving even deeper into his playing stocks to help his side find the much-needed attacking spark ahead of their next clash with Perth Glory.
“We have many young ones and if the chance is there for a young one then you have to take it,” he said.
“I don’t care if you are 18 or 35 – it doesn’t matter for me. More importantly bring your performance on to the pitch, help the team, help stay in the structure, stay disciplined, do what I expect from you.
“That is a big chance for the young ones there but first we have to settle down, think about it and then we prepare for Perth.
Contrasting his opponent's outlook, Phoenix Head Coach Ufuk Talay believed his side played a patient defensive game and his defenders, rather than the Wanderers attack, were the reason his side notched just their second clean sheet of the season.
“They can have a lot of possession but they have possession in front of us,” Talay said.
“It doesn’t hurt you when they are 60 metres away from the goal. At times the opponents can have the ball.
“It is the way we set-up defensively – we nullify their space for them to play in between our lines – and when we have the ball we play football.
Despite the result marking a third straight win for the Phoenix – and equaling a club record run of nine matches without defeat – Talay said he still sees areas for improvement in his team as they seek their maiden Hyundai A-League silverware this season.
“At times when we are under the pump a little bit, and the opposition press a little bit higher, I think we need to retain the ball a little bit better but that is stuff that we can work on,” he concluded.
Brisbane Roar v Wellington Phoenix
Saturday, 18 January 2020
Kick off: 4pm local, 5pm AEDT
Western Sydney Wanderers v Perth Glory
Sunday, 19 January 2020
Kick off: 6.30pm AEDT