After what was a promising start to the season, things have taken a big turn for the worse at the Wellington Phoenix.
Sunday’s loss to Newcastle was incredibly frustrating to watch as the Nix had 67% of possession and twice as many shots as the Jets yet still never looked like winning the match, eventually going down 3-1. Prior to the win over the Nix the Jets had gone ten matches winless and hadn’t scored a goal in their last six. Somehow the Nix always seem to be the team that others break their streaks on.
The team has been hit with significant injury concerns when combined with suspensions meant coach Ernie Merrick has been without eight frontline players over the last two weeks. The replacements did a superb job the previous week in holding table toppers Brisbane to a 0-0 draw at home but the loss to Newcastle highlighted just how much some players are missed, especially in the backline.
The Nix have now gone six games without scoring more than one goal in a match. What’s worse is that doesn’t look like turning around anytime soon. Leading goal scorer Roy Krishna is out for at least ten weeks and in his absence nobody appears to want to take on the role of sharpshooter. Bonevacia, McGlinchey and Sarpong need to step over the next few matches and start finding the back of the net or instead of fighting for a playoff spot the Nix could very realistically be in a battle to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.
Personally I find Sarpong the most disappointing player on the pitch for the Nix. He talked a big game when he was signed and arrived with a lot of promise. Yes it was always going to be hard to come into the team and be labelled by some as Nathan Burn’s replacement but his play so far this season has been nowhere near the standard we were expecting. When you promise the fans a lot of goals, you better deliver. So far his goal total this season is zero.
Licence or No Licence
News broke during the week that the Nix has been granted a four year licence extension with multiple news agencies running stories that the extension would be at the expense of a third Sydney based team. The deal was rumoured to have strict requirements around off field performance and would come with the opportunity of another licence agreement at the end of those four years provided things were going well commercially and the “metrics” are seen to be satisfactory.
However since the publication of these stories in the media the Nix have come out and stated that no agreement had been reached with FFA and negotiations were ongoing. At one stage this looked like it could potentially be the final season for the Nix after David Gallop accused the club of squatting on their licence and not performing at any level acceptable for the FFA and their plans for the growth of the A-League, putting emphasis on crowds, membership figures and television ratings.
It now appears that a licence extension of some variety will be granted and announced sometime soon (hopefully), just how long and what conditions come attached remain to be seen.
The Nix have to quickly get over last weeks loss to Newcastle as they head to Melbourne to take on City in their second consecutive match on the road. This will be the first meeting between the two sides since Melbourne ended the Nix season last year with a first round playoff victory in Wellington.
City are one of the only teams in the competition that the Nix have a winning record over. Of the 16 matches between the two sides the Nix have six wins with six matches ending in a draw.
Melbourne enter Monday’s match fourth on the ladder and without a loss in their last three matches. They do have their own problems though, having conceded more goals than any other team this season with the exception of the last placed Mariners. Obviously this reads as good news for Nix attackers but as I stated previously there doesn’t seem to be a strong desire to score goals from the current group of attacking players. Let’s hope this changes this week.
Personally I can’t see ourselves turning our fortunes around this weekend. I hope I’m wrong but Melbourne City appear just too good at the moment for a team with significant injury problems and struggling for any on field consistency. Hopefully we can get out of Melbourne without too much damage and then put a major emphasis on our next home match when we host the lowly Mariners in Christchurch, Ben Sigmund’s final game in front of his home town crowd.Google+