Phoenix were 'lacking a lot of confidence' under Kalezic - Greenacre
Wellington Phoenix caretaker coach Chris Greenacre has lifted the lid on the despondency that enveloped the club before predecessor Darije Kalezic departed.
Greenacre made it his mission to inject some enjoyment into the closing weeks of a forgettable A-League campaign, and it was nearly enough to upset the Melbourne Victory in their penultimate game.
The last-placed Phoenix led 1-0 in Melbourne on Sunday before the fourth-placed Victory conjured two late goals.
Greenacre has overseen three losses and a draw since taking over from the unpopular Kalezic, leaving the last-placed Phoenix two points behind the Central Coast Mariners with a round to play.
Despite their predicament, Greenacre is proud to have overseen a lift in attitude and spirits in a team which was counting down to the end of the season when he took charge.
"There were a group of players lacking a lot of confidence, even international footballers lacking in confidence," Greenacre said.
"It sounds crazy, but we had a dressing room that was quite down.
"You don't become a bad player overnight. It was important that they enjoyed playing football again and we've got them doing that."
Greenacre made it a priority to have the team playing a more open style.
His plan to provide space for speedy forwards Roy Krishna and Nathan Burns -- two players who will be around next season -- was again in evidence for much of the game in Melbourne.
"I've opened the game up in the top third and got the guys playing with freedom.
"I think when you've got people like Roy and Nathan, they need to play with freedom.
"They're our big strength. They cause all kinds of problems for defences because of their pace and they're a huge part of what we're trying to do."
A win over the third-placed Melbourne City in Auckland on Saturday is a must if Greenacre's men are to have any chance of avoiding the wooden spoon.
They're guaranteed to become the third Phoenix team to finish last in 11 seasons of existence if the Mariners pick up a point against the Newcastle Jets.