Much has been said about the Wellington Phoenix, with their future in the A-League not yet confirmed by the FFA.
Fans are divided on whether the club should remain in the competition, and both poor crowds and results on the field have people leaning against them.
Going by this season’s A-League, it is hard to see that this has been the case over the last few seasons.
The Phoenix are currently sitting in 5th position on the table and are unbeaten in nine matches. An impressive 3-1 victory away to Sydney FC and two draws to Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park have been some of the highlights. Their most recent draw in Melbourne saw them 3-1 up at half-time, conceding an equaliser very late in the second-half.
Mark Rudan was announced as the club’s new manager for this season and since his arrival, the tables look to have turned in Wellington. The team is competitive again and can be considered as title contenders. The Premiers’ Plate may be out of reach, however as we have seen recently in the A-League, anyone can win the ‘toilet seat.’
Rudan has improved the feeling around the club, embracing Maori culture and introducing several Maori rituals to the side. There is no doubt that this has had a positive impact on the playing group.
The Phoenix seem to have got it right on and off the field, with Rudan bringing in several players that have contributed to their good form.
Former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor and Polish goalkeeper Filip Kurto have brought stability to the defence, a big improvement from last season.
Polish midfielder Michal Kopczynski joined the club on loan from Legia Warsaw, while Spanish midfielder Mandi, Irish forward Cillian Sheridan and striker David Williams, who has had stints with a couple of A-League clubs, were brought in on free transfers and have so far put in strong performances.
While not new signings, Fijian international Roy Krishna and youngster Sarpreet Singh have been in red hot form and are key in the Phoenix’s fight for the Championship.
Wellington’s last home match against the Central Coast Mariners, in which they fought back from 2-0 down at half-time to win 3-2, attracted a crowd of 10,186, one of their highest in recent seasons. Their good form will do no harm in matching this figure.
There is plenty of time remaining in the season, however there is no doubt that this is a changed and reformed Wellington Phoenix. Continuing their good form will push their case for a permanent stay in the competition.
There is plenty to be positive about for their fans, who have not had much luck in the last few years. A great finish to the competition would be one of the stories of the season.