Today we finish our series on the sides that missed the Hyundai A-League finals last year and what they need to do differently in 2017/18 to make the six.
And it’s Wellington Phoenix’s turn – how can the Nix make the six?
MAKE THE TRIP TO WELLINGTON UNPLEASANT AGAIN
In years gone by, Hyundai A-League teams hated a trip to Wellington and found it difficult to take any points from visits to Westpac Stadium, let alone all three.
That aura has faded in recent seasons, and in 2016/17 the Phoenix won just five of their 14 home games.
If they can make their own arena a fortress again and an uncomfortable place for opposition sides to come, it’ll make a huge difference to their points tally.
STAY FOCUSED UNTIL THE FINAL WHISTLE
On numerous occasions last season the Phoenix conceded late goals and subsequently dropped points. Wins became draws and draws became losses as concentration levels flagged in the closing stages of matches.
Playing for 93 minutes rather than 83 is crucial for Wellington’s progress.
FIND AN EFFECTIVE NUMBER NINE
Coach Darije Kalezic has all but secured a foreign front-man who should arrive in New Zealand from Europe in the next few days.
All sides need a 12 to 15-goal a season player and if the new striker can get close to that, it’ll go a long way towards improving Phoenix’s fortunes.
With Fijian flier Roy Krishna now a genuine goalscoring threat at this level, the foreign front-men could form a potent partnership.
COME OUT OF THE BLOCKS
Phoenix’s poor start last season cost them both on the field and off it.
They lost their first four matches and when Ernie Merrick resigned after just two wins in the first eight games, Wellington were always playing catch-up.
It’s not an easy first month for the Phoenix with trips to Sydney FC and Melbourne City book-ended by home games against Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar, but a good start could make all the difference.
CHANNEL RADO’S KNOWLEDGE
There aren’t many who know more about the Hyundai A-League than new Phoenix assistant-coach Rado Vidosic.
Throughout his time at Brisbane Roar, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory he’s gained invaluable insights into what it takes to be successful, as well as key information about opposition teams and players.
Those pearls of wisdom could well prove to be hugely significant.