The turnaround of the Wellington Phoenix has been a bright spot of this A-League season, and Fox Football expert Mark Bosnich believes it may have just saved the club from extinction.
Speaking on the A-League Hour, Bosnich alongside fellow former Socceroo Ned Zelic agreed the club should remain in the competition and praised the entertaining brand of football the Kiwi outfit are playing under head coach Mark Rudan.
“I think it has [saved the club,]” Bosnich said.
“And I was one of the ones way back when who was really questioning why have we got a team from New Zealand in the competition when they’re basically giving us nothing.”
“Well this season, they’ve been an absolute breath of fresh air. You mentioned 23,000 but the most important thing for me is the way the team have been playing. Yes a lot of it is down to Mark Rudan but the vast majority is down to the players – which comes back to Rudan recruiting them all. They’ve been absolutely fantastic, really good to watch, and in my opinion I think they’re now an addition to this competition.”
There’s been plenty of chatter in recent seasons surrounding the future of the Nix – the only New Zealand side in Australia’s top tier – but it appears this resurrection could end the speculation. A bumper crowd of over 23,000 turned out at Eden Park in Auckland over the weekend to watch a 1-1 draw with reigning champions Melbourne Victory.
“Without a doubt [they should stick around],” Zelic said.
“I mean like Bozz said they’ve been playing some really entertaining football… on that front they really have been the entertainers this season. That game against the Victory, both teams had chances but it just shows you as well how prepared they are to play an open style and take risks and it’s good to see.”
In his first season coaching a professional side, Rudan and his style of play has impressed. So much so, that Bosnich says he actively scans the fixture list for a chance to watch them play – naming them the second most exciting side behind runaway league leaders Perth Glory.
“You know how important that is, to have an entertaining side,” Bosnich said.
“So it doesn’t matter if it may not be trendy to support a team. For example, a year and a half ago if you said Wellington were playing, unless it was something important, I’ll be like ‘alright I’ll watch the highlights.’ Now I’m looking along the list, and I’m looking for Perth number one, Wellington number two and I want to watch them because of the reason Ned just said.”