A-League 2018/19 report card: Wellington Phoenix

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After being dumped out of the finals in a 3-1 loss to the Melbourne Victory, The Football Sack takes a look at the Wellington Phoenix’s season.

This season

A-League: Regular Season – 6th (11 Wins, 7 Draws, 9 Losses)

Finals: Lost to Melbourne Victory in the elimination finals

FFA Cup: Round of 32

Top scorer: Roy Krishna – 19 goals

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Season Summary

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The season started with a taste of what was to come with the club winning the opening day fixture against the Newcastle Jets – for just the second time in their history.

While the club would struggle shortly thereafter, picking up just a single point in their next four games, a 1-1 draw with Perth Glory in round six was when things started to click. The Phoenix then began a club best nine game unbeaten streak, though that would end in a 1-0 loss to Sydney. From then on, the season turned into a difficult fight with Adelaide and Melbourne City for fourth place.

All things being equal, the Phoenix should have won the fight for fourth, being three points clear of Adelaide in fifth in round 23, and with a vastly superior goal difference. However, it wasn’t to be, and some late season struggles (possibly due to the uncertainty over the future of head coach Mark Rudan), saw the Nix fall to sixth.

Key to the Phoenix’s success was their league best strike partnership of Roy Krishna and David Williams. The pair would end up hitting 30 goals between them, with Krishna winning the golden boot after scoring 19 all season.

While finishing sixth might not have been the most successful season on paper, it was a season that, for the first time in a while, put a smile on Nix’s fans faces – something that they undoubtedly deserved after their struggles over the past few seasons.

Area in need of improvement

Beating top six teams. The Phoenix would go on to win just three times against fellow top six opposition. In fact, two of those were against the same team, as the Nix beat Melbourne City twice during the season.

It goes without saying though – you can’t just rely on beating the teams below you to climb the table. You’ve got to beat the teams ahead of you, and that’s just something the Phoenix weren’t very good at.

Top Student

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Most people would say A-League golden boot winner Roy Krishna, I think Filip Kurto is more deserving. The Pole was simply a monster in goal for the kiwi side, conceding only 35 goals – seven less than what he should have conceded according to expected goals. Beast.

Class Clown

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Nathan Burns. When you are a striker, you should score goals. Nathan Burns is a striker. He does not score goals. Maybe a bit unfair to him as when he did start in the early days of the season, he got in some good positions, assisted some and hit the post some, but still. Lucky for the Nix, they had David Williams and Roy Krishna.

Outlook

While Mark Rudan is leaving, the Nix have appointed a very Rudan-esque manager in Ufuk Talay. The Nix have the core of a very good squad, and what happens next season will largely depend on whether they keep that squad together. While Kurto is out the door – signing for Western United – if Talay can keep stars such as Max Burgess, Roy Krishna, and David Williams, the Nix will be in good shape heading in 2019/20.

Grade: B+

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Dan Moskovitz
The Football Sack's resident teen kiwi football nut. Loves everything football except defeats.