Could Wellington Phoenix defence please stand up?

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It was another miserable night for the Phoenix, being thrashed 6-1 by Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium last night.

Coming off the back of three consecutive losses to open the season, the Wellington based outfit had more than their work cut out for them. As has been the case for all their encounters this season the opening exchanges prompted some decent attacking play from the Nix, only for a severe reality check to strike.

Besart Berisha’s three-minute brace had the result almost beyond doubt as early as the 23rd minute mark, before a flurry of late goals left the 10-man Nix red-faced.

There are doubts about the Phoenix’s defensive capabilities heading forward.

The home side welcomed the ever-present holes in and around the edges of the Wellington midfield, holes that haven’t been filled since their first round loss to Melbourne City.

Vince Lia, who captained the side in the absence of Andrew Durante in their opening encounter, seems to be running on borrowed time in the defensive midfield role. Looking a shadow of the player he was just a couple of seasons ago, Lia is often found too far up the pitch and lacks the legs to aide his ailing fullbacks.

To add insult to injury, Dylan Fox, who arguably could have had three yellow cards in the opening half, was deservedly sent off on the hour mark.

It is bewildering to see how Ernie Merrick can get so little out of the quality team he possesses. Given that the talent sent out onto the field each week looks to be an incredibly strong side on paper.

The core squad look nothing like an organised unit however and it is now apparent that Merrick has too little in way of depth to attempt to rectify the issue.

There are no strong bench options to replace the under performing players.

Louis Fenton would be seen as a direct replacement for the struggling Jacob Tratt, were it not for his inability to defend.

Likewise, former Gold Coast striking starlet Ben Liften is yet to be fully tested against A-League defences, coming on in the later stages against Victory.

Just where the talent is going to come from remains to be seen. As for now the Phoenix head back to New Zealand to play the Newcastle Jets, still chasing their first win.

Ernie Merrick has time and time again proved his managerial worth during his long stint at Melbourne Victory. If results don’t improve, we might be looking at the first managerial casualty of the season.

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