How Wellington Phoenix can return to the six

Striker Roy Krishna gets a shot away during Wellington's Westfield FFA Cup clash against the Wanderers.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017 

Jason Pine @pineyzb
Today we finish our series on the sides that missed the Hyundai A-League finals last year and what they need to do differently in 2017/18 to make the six.

And it’s Wellington Phoenix’s turn – how can the Nix make the six?


In years gone by, Hyundai A-League teams hated a trip to Wellington and found it difficult to take any points from visits to Westpac Stadium, let alone all three.

That aura has faded in recent seasons, and in 2016/17 the Phoenix won just five of their 14 home games.

If they can make their own arena a fortress again and an uncomfortable place for opposition sides to come, it’ll make a huge difference to their points tally.


On numerous occasions last season the Phoenix conceded late goals and subsequently dropped points. Wins became draws and draws became losses as concentration levels flagged in the closing stages of matches.

Playing for 93 minutes rather than 83 is crucial for Wellington’s progress.


Coach Darije Kalezic has all but secured a foreign front-man who should arrive in New Zealand from Europe in the next few days.

All sides need a 12 to 15-goal a season player and if the new striker can get close to that, it’ll go a long way towards improving Phoenix’s fortunes.

With Fijian flier Roy Krishna now a genuine goalscoring threat at this level, the foreign front-men could form a potent partnership.


Phoenix’s poor start last season cost them both on the field and off it.

They lost their first four matches and when Ernie Merrick resigned after just two wins in the first eight games, Wellington were always playing catch-up.

It’s not an easy first month for the Phoenix with trips to Sydney FC and Melbourne City book-ended by home games against Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar, but a good start could make all the difference.


There aren’t many who know more about the Hyundai A-League than new Phoenix assistant-coach Rado Vidosic.

Throughout his time at Brisbane Roar, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory he’s gained invaluable insights into what it takes to be successful, as well as key information about opposition teams and players.

Those pearls of wisdom could well prove to be hugely significant.


Source  :  Football Federation Australia

Wellington Phoenix poised to unveil new head coach

Wellington Phoenix are close to announcing a new head coach for next season.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Staff writer
Wellington Phoenix General Manager David Dome says the club have signed an experienced new coach for the Hyundai A-League 2017/18 Season, which will be revealed in early June.

In an open letter to Phoenix members and fans, Dome revealed the coach with a “deep knowledge of European football” had signed a contract and would be announced pending flights and immigration.

“In the interim our new head coach has been talking to our football operations department, assessing our current squad of players and potential new signings from across Australasia and beyond,” Dome says in the letter.

“Currently off-contract players have been evaluated by our prospective head coach over previous weeks and any departures come with our best wishes.

“At present, we have 15 players from last season’s squad contracted for the next campaign, with three or four more to be confirmed in coming weeks.”

Defence: Andrew Durante (Phoenix)

“With a deep knowledge of European football, experience of developing young talent and a wide network of scouting contacts our prospective head coach is excellently situated to attract quality players to our football club and we look forward to announcing several key signings over the months ahead.”

The Phoenix GM said the club went through an extensive six-week process with coaching applicants before settling on their new man.

Dome also paid tribute to outgoing co-coaches Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre, who took over mid-season once Ernie Merrick resigned.

Wellington Phoenix coach Des Buckingham has confirmed the three players dropped last week have since apologised to the club.

Phoenix finished the 2016/17 Season in seventh spot, six points outside the Finals Series places.



Source : Football Federation Australia

Hyundai A-League season 2016/2017 review: Wellington Phoenix

It was a difficult season for Phoenix as the club missed the finals for a second straight year.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Jason Pine @pineyzb
A difficult season for the ‘Nix saw coach Ernie Merrick resign early in the campaign as they missed the finals for a second straight year. We examine Wellington’s season and look ahead to the 2016/17 campaign.


Position: 7th

Record: Played 27, Won 8, Drawn 6, Lost 13

Goals: 41

Conceded: 46

Leading Goal Scorer: Roy Krishna (12)

Best home crowd: 10,034 – Round 1 against Melbourne City

Star performer: Roy Krishna

The Fijian flier was Phoenix’s standout this season. Now looking every inch an A-League star in his fourth season in the competition, he scored a dozen goals, double the number of the side’s next best. His searing pace and deceptive strength were a lethal combination as Krishna became the club’s second all-time leading goalscorer, with only Paul Ifill now ahead of him. His off-field humility and giant smile just added to the overall package of a player who is now among the Hyundai A-League’s most dangerous attackers.

Roy KrishnaBreakout player: Jacob Tratt

Right fullback has often been a problem position for the Phoenix, but in the former Sydney FC squad player, they finally found a consistent, reliable, multi-talented #2. Tratt started every one of the side’s first 19 matches, developing both his defensive and attacking skills and becoming a Yellow Fever favourite. His departure for family reasons – first temporarily and then permanently – robbed Wellington of a player who looks to have a bright future in the game. At season’s end, he won the club’s Young Player of the Year award.

Goal of the year: Vince Lia

In the first game after the resignation of coach Ernie Merrick, the Phoenix produced the best possible response, beating Central Coast 3-0 in Hamilton.  The second goal was an absolute stunner, with Vince Lia seizing upon a half-clearance before smashing the ball into the top corner from 25 yards to notch just his fourth goal in over 200 Hyundai A-League games. An honourable mention too for Tom Doyle’s mazy run and strike from outside the box in the round 17 visit to Adelaide United.

Phoenix players celebrate Vince Lia's goal against the Mariners.

Highlight: Becoming Victory’s bogey team

The Phoenix visited Victory in round four, where a red card to Dylan Fox was the catalyst for a catastrophic opening of the floodgates, Victory scoring four goals in the last 20 minutes in a 6-1 thrashing. The two next met in a rescheduled fixture after the November earthquakes in New Zealand’s capital. On a balmy Tuesday night in January, Roly Bonevacia opened the scoring in the first half before late goals from Jacob Tratt (his first in the Hyundai A-League) and former Victory favourite Kosta Barbarouses inflated the scoreline to 3-0. And lightning was to strike twice when the two sides met again, this time in Melbourne in round 25. Bonevacia was again to the fore, scoring two long-range stunners in the first half, before Shane Smeltz tapped in a third to complete a second 3-0 win over Victory, and make up, in some way, for what had happened earlier in the season.

Lowlight: Ernie Merrick’s resignation

The 0-2 loss at Adelaide in round eight which left Phoenix rock-bottom of the table was the last straw for the affable Scotsman, who announced to the players afterwards he’d be leaving the club after just over three seasons in charge. It emerged he’d tendered his resignation to Chairman Rob Morrison earlier in the season, but it was declined. This time, it wasn’t. It was an emotional time for everyone involved with the club and Merrick was rightly lauded for the attacking style of play he had brought to the Phoenix and the laconic, easy-going way in which he’d conducted himself during his time in New Zealand.

What does Ernie Merrick have to do to turn Newcastle into a finals contender?What they need:

The first agenda item is confirming the coach for next season with the end of May the stated time-frame. Once the new boss is in place, he can start working through the off-contract players and starting to fill gaps. With Roly Bonevacia likely to depart and fellow midfielder Alex Rodriguez also off-contract, visa spots may open. Foundation player Vince Lia also seems likely to leave, so shoring up the defensive midfield spots is a priority. The search for a right fullback will begin again with Jacob Tratt’s sudden departure and there’s also doubt around the futures of goalkeepers Glen Moss and Lewis Italiano. In short, there’s plenty of work to do at Nix HQ!

Acquisitions for next season:


Losses for next season:

Jacob Tratt, Shane Smeltz

Shane Smeltz has left Wellington Phoenix for Indonesia.

Outlook for 2017/18:

Wellington should do a lot better than they have these past two seasons. The squad they assembled at the start of 2016/17 was as strong as any in the 10-year life of the club, making the inability to return to finals football particularly galling for fans, the players and the club’s board. The right coaching appointment is vital, as is the off-season recruitment undertaken by the new boss. The murmurings of discontent at crowds and TV ratings will continue until the Phoenix start winning again and certainly they don’t seem a million miles away from finding the finals formula. The 2017/18 campaign is as big as any the club has ever faced; they simply must get it right.



Source : Football Federation Australia

Analysis: can Wellington Phoenix make the six?

Wellington Phoenix remain in contention for a Finals berth heading into the final two rounds.

Wellington Phoenix remain in contention for a Finals berth heading into the final two rounds.

They looked down and out a month ago, but Wellington Phoenix are making a late charge for the Hyundai A-League Finals Series. Here are the scenarios you need to know when asked: “Can the Nix make the six?”

In short, yes they can.

In fact, they could theoretically finish as high as fifth.

But they’ll need a few things to go their way.


5. Western Sydney Wanderers 34 points, GD 0

6. Perth Glory 33 points, GD -3

7. Wellington Phoenix 29 points, GD -4


Western Sydney Wanderers: Melbourne Victory (H), Adelaide United (A)

Perth Glory: Brisbane Roar (H), Melbourne City (H)

Wellington Phoenix: Sydney FC (H), Brisbane Roar (A)


There are four scenarios under which Phoenix could sneak into the Finals Series.

1. Phoenix win their remaining two games and Perth win neither of their remaining two games.

2. Phoenix have a win and draw in their remaining two games and Perth lose their remaining two games.

Wellington Phoenix players celebrate a goal in their 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar.

3. Phoenix win their remaining two games and Western Sydney lose their remaining two games.

4. Phoenix win their remaining two games and Western Sydney have a draw and a loss in their remaining two games, at which point it would come down to goal difference (see below).


Phoenix have momentum, Perth do not.

Glory have been hit by injuries to key players Alex Grant, Nebo Marinkovic, Rostyn Griffiths and Shane Lowry.

They’ve also suffered a form-lapse, picking up just two points from the last available dozen and leaking 11 goals in their last four games.

Sydney FC easily accounted for Perth Glory 3-0 on Sunday night.

By contrast, Phoenix have won three and drawn one of their last five matches, scoring 14 goals in the process.

They put second-placed Victory to the sword on Sunday, recording just a second-ever away win at Melbourne.


Phoenix’s recent goal-rush has helped their cause.

Eight unanswered goals in their last two games have improved their goal difference to -4, just one worse than Perth Glory and four back from Western Sydney.

Now, consider this scenario: Phoenix beat both Sydney FC and Brisbane 1-0, while Western Sydney have a draw and a 2-goal loss in their games against Melbourne Victory and Adelaide.

Kosta Barbarouses starred in Wellington's 5-0 win over the Jets.

Under those circumstances, Wellington and Western Sydney would finish equal on points and goal difference, with Phoenix advancing to the Finals Series having scored more goals.

Meantime, if Phoenix and Perth finish equal on points, there is no combination of results which could see Phoenix finish below Perth on goal difference.


Five weeks ago, the Phoenix held a 3-1 lead heading into the final quarter of a pulsating game against Perth in Auckland.

Adam Taggart reduced the deficit, before Diego Castro curled a sublime free-kick into the top corner to rescue a point for Glory.

Diego Castro has set aside talk of extending his stay in Perth as he prepares for his milestone 50th game in the Hyundai A-League.

Had it not been for the Spaniard’s late stunner, the two sides would be just one point apart heading into the season’s final fortnight.


At the very least, the Phoenix must earn a point against Premier’s Plate winners Sydney FC on Saturday night at Westpac Stadium.

Defeat would end their hopes of making the Finals Series, regardless of what happens elsewhere.


Source : Football Federation Australia

Wellington Phoenix appoint duo till season’s end

Phoenix v Adelaide highlights

Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre have been confirmed as the coaches of the Wellington Phoenix for the remainder of the 2016-17 Hyundai A-League season.

The pair took the reins when Ernie Merrick resigned four weeks ago and have been in charge for four games that have seen the team unbeaten in winning one and drawing three.

On Sunday night the Phoenix fought out a scoreless draw with defending champions Adelaide United and were only denied a win by some outstanding saves from United keeper Eugene Galekovic.


Under the FFA regulations Buckingham, who holds a Pro Licence, will be head coach and Greenacre, a former striker with the club who has an A Licence, will be co-coach.

Buckingham said he was looking forward to the challenge.

“I still think this team is capable of making the top four which was our aim at the start of the season,” he said.

“It is good that we have gone four games unbeaten, which I’ve been told hasn’t happened since February 2015, but we could have won all three with a bit of luck.

“We have been handed a fantastic challenge and have been fortunate to have worked with Ernie Merrick who upskilled us and exposed us to a lot of stuff that wouldn’t have happened with other coaches at other clubs.’’

Greenacre, a former Manchester City and Tranmere Rovers striker who was a Phoenix fan favourite in his playing days, said he was pleased to have the coaching situation decided.

“To lose our mentor was tough but that is the nature of the game of football and it has presented us with a fantastic challenge and life is all about challenges”, he said

Wellington Phoenix Chairman Rob Morrison said the club Board were confident that the newly appointed coaches could take the club forward positively.

“We interviewed a number of excellent candidates but with the run of games we have through January, we felt it was too difficult for any new coach to get to grips with a new squad and the challenges of coaching in the A league,” Morrison said.

“We have a really good squad and Des and Chris impressed with their views on what needed to change and how to get the best from the squad.

“The board are confident that Des and Chris can take the team through to the playoffs.”


Football Federation Australia

Wellington Phoenix 0 x 0 Adelaide United – Hyundai A-League 2016/2017

Wellington Phoenix and Adelaide United have been forced to share the spoils after playing out a lackluster 0-0 draw in miserable conditions at Westpac Stadium on Sunday night.

In a match played in persistent rain and howling winds, both sides struggled to maintain possession in the opening stanza with clear-cut chances at a premium.

But Adelaide should have gone into the break with the advantage after Nikola Mileusnic fired over the bar from close range following neat build up from Sergio Cirio and Tarek Elrich.

The game opened up in the second half with Kosta Barbarouses going close for Wellington just after the restart before Ryan Kitto fired wide for the visitors on the hour mark.

A niggly affair developed as the game progressed with the referee issuing nine yellow cards in total as tensions threatened to boil over on occasions.

Wellington finished with a flurry and forced Eugene Galekovic into a string of crucial saves in stoppage time as both sides walked away with a point.



With few chances on offer in shocking conditions, Adelaide flyer Nikola Mileusnic spurned a glorious opportunity to open the scoring in the 27th minute. Tarek Elrich played a lovely ball in behind for Sergio Cirio with the Spaniard expertly cutting the ball back for Mileusnic who fluffed his chance from close range with only Glen Moss to beat.


Adelaide United striker Sergio Guardiola limped off just prior to the interval with what appeared to be a left knee complaint.

Re-live the match action on Twitter

@ALeague, @WgtnPhoenixFC, @AdelaideUnited, #WELvADL

Football Federation Australia

Ernie Merrick has stepped down as Head Coach of Wellington Phoenix

Ernie Merrick has stepped down as Head Coach of Wellington Phoenix.

Wellington Phoenix have been rocked with the news that head coach Ernie Merrick has resigned from his position, effective immediately.

The Kiwi outfit has struggled in the opening nine rounds, recording just two wins to sit bottom of the Hyundai A-League.

The two-time A-League champion felt that with recent results he had taken the team as far as he could.


“I take full responsibility for position the team is currently in,” Merrick said.


“I feel that I have not performed well enough as Head Coach, as we have a very strong squad that should be higher up the table.

“It’s therefore the right time for me to step aside and allow someone else to take over. We have a run of home games coming up and I think this will give my successor the best opportunity to take the team forward.

“I’d like to thank everyone at Wellington Phoenix for the past three years and particularly Welnix, the Chairman and the board who have been nothing but supportive during this time.”

The club understands the decision and thanked Merrick for the hard work and dedication he has put in during the past three years.

Wellington Phoenix have appointed Chris Greenacre and Des Buckingham as joint Interim Head Coaches while the club undergoes a thorough process to fill the role full time.

Football Federation Australia


Wellington Phoenix pair Vince Lia and Andrew Durante are set to notch major appearance milestones on Saturday.

Wellington Phoenix pair Vince Lia and Andrew Durante are set to notch major appearance milestones on Saturday.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Wellington Phoenix @WgtnPhoenixFC
Wellington Phoenix duo Andrew Durante and Vince Lia are set to play their 250th and 200th games respectively when the team faces Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.

When the Phoenix Captain steps out on the pitch for the meeting with his former club, he will join the Hyundai A-League’s 250 match club.

“It’s pretty special to be the first outfield player in a brand new competition to reach that milestone – it’s pretty cool to be honest,” Durante said.

“I’ve been pretty lucky with injuries. Outside of that I’ve looked after my body pretty well, I know when to push it, when not to push it. I’ve had coaches that have been great with me, that have allowed me to sit if I needed to.

“I try to be consistent in every game and every season, that’s what I strive to do, be as consistent as possible and that’s seems to have held me in some pretty good stead.”

Facing the Jets at home will also bring back special memories for Durante, who scored in the 4-1 victory over Newcastle in 2014, and he’s confident of putting in a repeat performance this time around. “We’ve got to really go at them. We’ve got to really put them under pressure, pick up lots of second balls, just really get their backline under pressure with deliveries into the box, shots on goal, really put an intent on the game early,” Durante said. “We’re up for it, we’re hurting. I look around and think there’s no way we should be in this situation with the players that we have and we all know that. You’ll see a much improved and hungry team tomorrow night.” Head Coach Ernie Merrick was also expecting that the quality of his squad will shine through against the Jets and that results will begin to turn around from there. “I think the boys have put themselves under pressure to make sure that they give everything in the game tomorrow and that’s been pretty evident in what goes on out there [the training pitch] and our usual team meeting,” Merrick said. “If we don’t go on a run of wins, we’re not going to achieve anything, so we need to go on a run and one game’s not enough.”

Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets

Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Kick-Off: 7:35PM 

Tickets: Click here



Football Federation Australia


Gui Finkler has been impressive in pre-season for Wellington Phoenix

Gui Finkler has been impressive in pre-season for Wellington Phoenix.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has revealed he’s trying to get new attacking midfielder Gui Finkler to work less in defence.

Finkler signed for Phoenix from Melbourne Victory at the end of last season and although Merrick has been thrilled with the Brazilian’s progress in yellow and black, the Scotland-born coach has one problem with the 30-year-old.


Merrick wants Finkler to “cheat a little bit” and stay high up the pitch to help catch opposition sides on the counterattack.


“The surprising thing with Gui is he’s been too conscientious in defence,” Merrick told reporters on Thursday.

“I want him to cheat a little bit and not track too far back into our back third, so that when we win the ball, he’s in the middle third ready to play the ball out.

“His service, particularly to Kosta [Barbarouses], who he’s known for a while, and to Roy [Krishna] and Hamish [Watson] has been first class.

“So I’m trying to get him to work less in defence.”

While few coaches would publicly call for a player to “work less”, Merrick’s demands of Finkler may come down to Wellington’s fitness, which the 63-year-old claims is at the best level he’s seen during his three years at Phoenix.

Wellington have played seven pre-season matches in the lead-up to the 2016-17 A-League campaign and have won every one, with the only negative of the past few months being their FFA Cup elimination in August.


“Our level of fitness, our work-rate during matches, has been higher than it’s ever been, and we’re tracking that with GPS,” Merrick said.

“So given the fact that we keep winning games and we don’t concede many goals, we must be doing something right. I’m certainly happy with the pre-season, I feel as so it’s the best we’ve had since I’ve been at the club.”


Football Federation Australia

Hyundai A-League transfer wrap for season 2016/2017 – Kosta Barbarouses

Kosta Barbarouses (Wellington Phoenix) The New Zealand international is heading home after spending the last three seasons with Melbourne Victory. The 26-year-old has signed a three-year marquee deal.


Football Federation Australia