A-League: Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay proud of team, despite late-season slump

Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay refuses to panic, despite a recent run of poor results, as their A-League regular season ended with a 3-0 defeat to Newcastle Jets on Thursday. 

Since the competition resumed last month, the Phoenix have collected just five points from a possible 18, but that was enough to finish inside the top-six playoff cut. 

They must wait until Wednesday to learn their opponents in the elimination round, with Mark Rudan's Western United, Perth Glory or Brisbane Roar all options. 

With two games remaining, only Rudan's side can overtake the Phoenix for third in the  standings, although they are against Melbourne City and Sydney FC - the top two teams on the ladder. 

The Phoenix also can't fall lower than fourth and a third-place finish would represent their best-ever regular season finish. 

Despite losing to the Jets, Talay was pleased with his side's performance. 

"I spoke to the boys after the game and said, 'Look, it's disappointing that we lost the game, but the performance was most important leading into the finals series'," says Talay. 

Phoenix forward Callum McCowatt.
Phoenix forward Callum McCowatt. Photo credit: Photosport

"In the first half, I think we totally dominated against Newcastle and created enough opportunities to win the game.

"That's football sometimes - you go 1-0 down, the boys chased the game and it opened up a little bit. 

"But like I said, the performance was most important tonight and I think we did it well for 45-60 minutes.

"I'm very proud of the group, proud of what they've achieved and we'll be playing finals football, which is most important for us."

Talay isn't fussed over who the Phoenix face in the playoffs. 

"We've played against each other a lot this season, so the preparation will still be the same, when we find out who we're playing,"

"The most important thing was making the top six and the group has achieved that. Once we find out who we're playing, we'll prepare to go out there and win that game."

Join us for live updates of the Wellington Phoenix's A-League playoffs campaign