After defeat to the Central Coast Mariners set back the Jets finals ambitions, this weekend across the ditch becomes even more crucial.
Five points is the difference with five games remaining, and with Wellington a direct competitor for a spot in the top six a win this weekend is almost a necessity for the Jets.
Speaking to media on Monday, Ernie Merrick laid out the map to success this weekend in New Zealand and identified the players he’s relying on to help the Jets over the line.
“We’ll train Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday before we fly over to Wellington, train Friday and play on Saturday, and it really is a critical game for us,” Merrick said.
“I spoke to the senior players at the end [of training] about demanding higher standards from the players, not always from me, and next two days we’ll be ramping it up.
“I was happy with the senior boys, I was just making sure everyone knows what’s at stake at the weekend… I spoke to five of them today and said that we really need to switch on not only at training but in games.”
Phoenix, along with Melbourne City and Adelaide, stand as the three sides which the Jets could jump into the top six.
Prior to the March 16 loss to the Central Coast, the Jets were without a defeat in the league since the end of January.
With the gap not cut to two points as many expected, Merrick believes it’s now a case of scoring goals and winning games.
“That was the first loss in six games, I think they’ve been pretty good at bouncing back but they really need to now,” he said.
“It’s all or nothing from now on. We’ve just got to win and that’s what we intend to do, and we’ve got the players to do it.
“It’s about efficiency, about scoring goals and there’s no second chances anymore. If we lose another game, I think we would really struggle.
“I think Wellington have done well, pulled away a couple of extra points… Adelaide are closer to us, but it’s really about winning at least three of the remaining five, maybe only losing one and a draw, and seeing how things fall.”