It’s the time of the year when clubs look towards the second half of the season and The Football Sack critiques each club’s progress so far.

Do you agree with our assessments made in the return of our mid-season report cards?

Semester Summary: The start of the 2017/18 campaign has been nothing short of disastrous for the Phoenix with the club languishing at the foot of the Hyundai A-League ladder. The Phoenix have just two wins to their name and have picked up a mere two points on the road this season. The dressing room appears to be a place of unrest with Dario & Rado Vidosic as well as Gui Finkler all departing the club. The arrival of Nathan Burns and Matija Ljujic seems to have steadied the ship to an extent but there is much work to be done if the Phoenix are going make this season anything other than one to forget.

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Areas of Excellence: N/A

Areas in need of improvement: Wellington’s defence appears to be the area in the most need of improvement. The recent additions of Nathan Burns and Matija Ljujic seem to have sufficiently bolstered the club’s attacking ranks. Kalezic is a coach who prefers a more pragmatic approach, laying particular praise on the side when they picked up their first clean sheet of the season following a 0-0 draw against Brisbane in early December. Despite this only Perth Glory have conceded more goals than Wellington this season and the Phoenix have kept a league low two clean sheets. Kalezic seemingly hasn’t settled on preferred personnel in his back four (or five). The defensive midfield pairing of Goran Paracki and Matt Ridenton appears fragile. Don’t be surprised to see reinforcements brought in before the window closes.

Top Students: Andrija Kaluderovic has been in top form in front of goal despite the Phoenix’s woes this season. The Serbian marksman sits equal third on the goal scoring charts with eight goals to his name with his ability to find the back of the net keeping Wellington in games they really shouldn’t be at times. Kalezic has signed Kaluderovic’s former Zalgiris Vilnius teammate Matija Ljujic who also appears to be a top pick up. The Phoenix are yet to lose with Ljujic in the side with the midfielder capping his impact with stunning strike at the weekend against the Wanderers.

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Class Clown: Many are pointing the finger at head coach Darije Kalezic for the Phoenix’s poor showing this term. The side have won just two matches this season and sit eight points adrift of a finals position. It appears the Phoenix camp has been in turmoil with Kalezic’s assistant Rado Vidosic sacked in December before his son Dario, who was brought to the club by Kalezic in pre-season, quickly followed him out the door. This fall out came quickly after Brazilian Gui Finkler’s contract was terminated while Ali Abbas, Ryan Lowry and Hamish Watson are rumoured to be the latest players to be shown the door. Kalezic must get control of his dressing room quickly if not he looks likely to be shown the door as well sooner rather than later.

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Grade: D

Outlook: So far Kalezic has used the January transfer window to bring in one of Wellington’s favourite former sons in Nathan Burns and Serbian midfielder Matija Ljulic. The early signs of the pair’s impact on the squad are very positive with the side beating Melbourne Victory and taking a point from Western Sydney in the two matches that the new signings have been involved. It’s the first time that the Phoenix have managed to avoid defeat in two-consecutive games this season. Whether the side can keep up this run of better form remains to be seen but the beauty of the A-League is despite being bottom Phoenix only sit eight-points outside the competitions top six. If Kalezic’s men manage to grab two or three wins on the trot they could find themselves right back in the race for finals football.

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Currently studying a Bachelor of Digital Media and Communication at Southern Cross University, Thibault is a digital content editor at Gold Coast City and works as a football correspondent for APN Newspapers. Olympique Lyon and Socceroos fan, passionate about the growth of football in Australia.