'Stupid' early kick-offs leave Merrick hot under the collar

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has slammed the yet-to-be-released 2014-15 A-League fixtures labelling early kick-offs in summer as “stupid”.

The FFA will release next season’s fixture list on Thursday, in what will be the 10th year of the fledgling league.

All A-League clubs have been circulated the preliminary schedule for the new season, with Merrick fuming at a February fixture away to Brisbane Roar due to kick off at 3pm.

“We’re fortunate to be able to play in the A-League from New Zealand and we know it’s always going to be tough with the travel,” Merrick told FourFourTwo.

“But on February 1 in the height of summer we’re playing Brisbane Roar in Brisbane at 3pm.

“I think we’ll all get a sun tan. I don’t know what the thinking is on playing a game in Queensland at 3pm in summer.”

The FFA declined to comment until after the release of the draw.

Last season, Melbourne Heart’s clash with Perth Glory in February in Albury was played in temperatures above 40 degrees, while Glory also hosted Adelaide in November in soaring heat, prompting complaints from coaches. Former Perth coach Alistair Edwards labelled the scheduling as “unacceptable”.

The 2014-15 campaign will be interrupted by the 2015 Asian Cup which will take place from January 9-31. As a New Zealand-based club, Wellington always face a challenging travelling schedule which will be further increased by the continental tournament.

Merrick acknowledged it wasn’t ideal but felt early kick-offs were the bigger issue given they are avoidable.

“There’s also one stage where we play four games in 11 days, with a turnover of two or three days between games,” Merrick said.

“Fixtures are fixtures, it’s never going to be perfect with the Asian Cup, which is great for Australia to host, all coaches will deal with that, but the Brisbane game is just stupid.”

Meanwhile, Merrick declined to discuss the club’s reported move for New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey.

The FFA website reported that McGlinchey had signed with Wellington from Japanese club Vegalta Sendai where he’s on loan from Central Coast after receiving a release, but quickly withdrew the story.

“I’ve never revealed the identity of a player until he’s signed on the dotted line,” Merrick said.

The former Melbourne Victory coach did hint McGlinchey fit the bill of what he was after, chasing a hard-working and creative number 10 in their 25-to-28-year-old age bracket, along with a striker to replace Stein Huysegems.


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