Season Preview: Wellington Phoenix

As season 8 of the A-League moves ever close, here’s part 8 of our extensive league wide preview, today taking a look at Wellington Phoenix

Last Season: 4th, Lost in week 2 of finals to Perth Glory.

It was looking like being a long season for Herbert and his chargers with just one win in their opening 7 games, but 9 wins from their next 13 games left them in a strong position going into the final stretch of the season. 2 losses to Central Coast and Brisbane essentially ended their top 2 aspirations but they managed to end the season in an impressive 4th place securing finals football for the 3rd successive season. In the finals they disposed of Sydney at home 3-2 before taking a 2-1 lead in the West against the Glory before Billy Mehmet equalised and Todd Howarth scored in extra-time to end their season.

Manager: Ricki Herbert

What can you say about Ricki Herbert- the job he has done with both Wellington and the NZ national team is outstanding. If you look at what the New Zealand Knights were in the early years and compare that with the current day Phoenix it just shows how much he’s brought to them. Another big –and busy- season awaits for Herbert with 2014 World Cup Qualifying kicking into full gear.

On the tactical front Herbert is stringent in his 4-4-2 with the Phoenix and he rarely switches to alternatives. The aim of this is for them to break into wider areas with tricky and pacy wide men and also to get the best out of talisman Paul Ifill. While they are rigid to the 4-4-2 system Herbert employs a lot of movement and interchanging of positions. Finally- while he sticks with his 4-4-2 for Wellington, he has used a more offensive 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 with New Zealand in recent times which shows his tactical versatility.

Squad:
1. Mark Paston, 2. Manny Muscat, 3. Tony Lochhead, 5. Michael Boxall, 6. Alex Smith, 7.. Leo Bertos, 8. Paul Ifill, 9. Benjamin Totori, 10. Stein Huysegmens, 11. Jeremy Brockie, 12. Tyler Boyd, 14. Mirijan Pavlovic, 15. Cameron Lindsay, 17. Vince Lia, 18. Ben Sigmund, 19. Jimmy Downey, 20. Glen Moss, 21. Dani Sanchez, 22. Andrew Durante, 23. Lucas Pantelis,? Louis Fenton.

Ins:

Glen Moss (Gold Coast United), Jeremy Brockie (Newcastle Jets), Benjamin Totori (Koloale FC- Solomon Islands), Michael Boxall (Vancouver Whitecaps-MLS), Stein Huysegmens (Lierse S.K), Tyler Boyd (Waikato FC), Louis Fenton (Team Wellington), Ricardo Clarke (Sporting San Minguelito-loan- Panama)

Outs:

Tim Brown (Retired), Nick Ward (Perth Glory), Daniel Cortes (Insee Police United- Thailand), Nikolas Tsattalios (Sutherland Sharks-NSWPL), Tony Warner (Released), Chris Greenacre (Retired- took up role as Assistant manager), Brent Griffiths (Central Coast Mariners)

Key in: Stein Huysegmens

The Belgian forward- who has 15 caps for his country- shapes as an underrated addition given the recent additions at other clubs, but Stein could outdo them. He arrives with a solid scoring record at some of Holland’s and Belgium’s biggest clubs including AZ Alkmaar, Twente and Feyenoord.

Key out: Tim Brown

The heart of the Phoenix since their arrival in 2007, Tim amassed 112 games for the club netting a handy 23 goals from midfield. How Herbert replaces him –and especially his goals- will go a long way to defining their season.

Possible starting line-up:

Strengths: Continuity.
Much like the Mariners, Herbert has got a real tight knit group of players that believe in him his philosophy and their teammates. Players like Paston, Muscat, Lochhead, Durante, Sigmund, Bertos, Ifill and Lia have played together for the past 3-4 seasons and their experiences together will be a massive factor in any success they have.

 

Weaknesses: Central midfield

The loss of Tim Brown will be underlined with an exclamation mark in the early weeks and the challenge for Herbert has to be to find a replacement in a creative sense in that role. Dani Sanchez –if fit- may get the 1st crack at the role but I wouldn’t rule out Alex Smith or even Benjamin Totori getting a chance in a creative role in midfield.


One to watch:
Tyler Boyd

Not entirely sure who to put in this section due to my lack of knowledge of Wellington’s youngsters, but from what I understand Tyler Boyd has a gained a good reputation in the NZ League and could become a similar success story to Kosta Barbarouses and Marco Rojas.

Record vs. Brisbane:
Played 15: Won 9, Lost 2, Drawn 4. Goals for 27, Goals against 14, goal dif +13.

 

Last Season:

Round 6: Brisbane Roar 1-1 Wellington Phoenix
Round 11: Wellington Phoenix 2-0 Brisbane Roar
Round 21: Wellington Phoenix 0-2 Brisbane Roar

When do we play:
Round 3:
Westpac Stadium
Round 14: Suncorp Stadium
Round 21: Suncorp Stadium
Pre-Season record:
Wellington Phoenix 4-0 Lower Hutt
Wellington Phoenix 9-0 Miramar Rangers
Newcastle Jets 3-1 Wellington Phoenix
United Sikkim 0-3 Wellington Phoenix
Shillong Lajong 0-3 Wellington Phoenix
Royal Wahingdoh 0-3 Wellington Phoenix
Shillong Lajong 3-2 Wellington Phoenix
Wellington Phoenix 4-0 Petone
Wellington Phoenix 5-0 Team Wellington
Wellington Phoenix 1-1 Western Sydney Wanderers

September 29: Young Heart Manawatu vs. Wellington Phoenix

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