Where there’s life, there’s hope and Western Sydney coach Carl Robinson is vowing to fight to the bitter end in the A-League finals race.
Wednesday’s loss to Wellington means the prospect of a fourth straight season without finals looms barring a miraculous set of results falling the Wanderers’ way over the next week.
Even with a win over in-form Brisbane at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday, the Wanderers’ slim hopes of sneaking into the top six could be extinguished by results elsewhere.
The seventh-placed Phoenix host eighth-placed Perth in front of what is expected to be a bumper crowd at Auckland’s Eden Park on Sunday, with anything other than a draw likely to end the Wanderers’ top-six ambitions.
Missing out on finals would be a huge disappointment in Robinson’s first season with the Wanderers after the Welshman was given the backing to overhaul the squad when he was appointed in October.
While he knows it’s unlikely, Robinson says he and his players won’t throw in the towel on the 2020-21 campaign.
“Our playoff hopes are hanging by a thread, we know that, with two games to go. We can’t control that,” he said.
“What we can control is what we do. There’ll be no letting down from me.
“We’re fighting until the last day of the season and hopefully that will continue but their attitude won’t change.
“If any of them drop, if any of their standards drop, if I feel there’s a little bit of drop off in how they want to work, they won’t play.”
While the Wanderers are just aiming to keep their season alive on Sunday, Brisbane are eyeing off a top-four berth after back-to-back wins over Newcastle and Melbourne lifted Warren Moon’s team to fifth on the ladder.
Across the Tasman, Wellington will be hoping another big New Zealand crowd can spur them to a third-straight win and into the top six at Macarthur’s expense.
The Glory meanwhile harbour finals ambitions of their own despite losing winger Chris Ikonomidis to Socceroos’ duty after he was called up by Graham Arnold for World Cup qualifiers next month.
Having won four and drawn one of their past five fixtures, Richard Garcia’s team will leapfrog the Phoenix and move within one point of Macarthur if they can win in Auckland.