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Mar 8, 2013

Wanderers ready for revamped Phoenix

A rejuvenated side with a new coach at the helm may be enough to rattle most A-League teams but not Western Sydney.

The Wanderers face Wellington under new mentor Chris Greenacre at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday as they attempt to hold on to their lead at the top of the ladder with the minor premiership in their sights with only four games remaining.

A change in coach quite often sparks a change in fortunes for a slumping side with opponents left to guess what new tactics and formation they may face.

Greenacre, who replaced the league's longest-serving mentor Ricki Herbert, led the Phoenix to victory in his first outing beating Melbourne Heart 1-0 to halt a four-game winless streak.

But the unflappable Wanderers have faced this very threat many times already this season and, like every other challenge thrown at them, have been able to overcome it.

They played Sydney a fortnight after Frank Farina took the reins and beat them 2-0 after the Sky Blues had two games without loss.

They faced Adelaide the week after John Kosmina sensationally quit and handed new boss Michael Valkanis a 4-2 defeat in his first game in charge.

They beat Perth 1-0 in coach Alistair Edwards' second game.

The Glory mentor guided the side to a 2-1 win over a formidable Central Coast in his debut game, has won three out of the four games he's been at the helm but just could not get past the rampant Wanderers.

"It's always dangerous. It's happened a few times to us this season - playing the team the week after the coach has left," Wanderers striker Joey Gibbs said.

"They'll come out with a lot of energy, but I'm sure we'll match that like we have every other game this year."

Making the Phoenix possibly more dangerous than most however, is that sitting at the bottom of the ladder they don't have the weight of expectation on the shoulders.

Only four points adrift of the top six, Wellington are still in the hunt for a finals berth, but all the pressure will be on the Wanderers, who could break the league's all-time longest winning streak with a ninth consecutive victory on Sunday.

"Every club has pressure to perform and get results. You could look at it now that we are on top and - is it a different kind of pressure? For us, no," Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said.

"They will have some more confidence now and more belief, but they're up against a team full of confidence and belief in the Wanderers - and in front of our home fans."

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