It’s been an improved and refreshing season for New Zealand’s only candidate in the A-League – well, apart from the last few shambolic days in the land of the long white cloud.
Wellington Phoenix are in a bind.
On the one hand they’ve raked in a reported $1 million for the transfer of Sarpreet Singh to Bayern Munich, a move that will allow a home-grown Kiwi talent to flourish in the pressurised environment of a big club. But on the other hand they’ve given themselves a huge hole to fill in their midfield.
On the cusp of the 2019-20 A-League preseason the Phoenix would be well advised to plug the gap as soon as possible in order to allow for new signings to bed into the squad and gel with their teammates. Team cohesion is a finicky thing, but the one adage that holds true is that the more time you give it to develop, the likelier you are to succeed.
So, who can Phoenix bring in?
They could go for a safe option in the form of a like-for-like replacement – perhaps Ronald Vargas and Danny De Silva. Or should they be bold and look to reshape the entire structure of the squad?
The Phoenix would be best to go for the latter option. With the squad decimated by the loss of key forwards Roy Krishna and David Williams, and with conductor-in-chief Mark Rudan now at new boys Western United, it would be unrealistic and dogmatic to insist on continuing to play the same style. It would be much better to reinvent the squad, and the men key to doing that go by the names of Andy Keogh and Joel Chianese
At 33 and 30 respectively, the pair hardly represents the youth of tomorrow; really they’re the ageing marquees of yesterday, yet that is precisely what the Phoenix needs at the moment.
With so much change and flux in the club, mature heads are needed to bring through the likes of Callum McCowatt, Ben Waine and Callan Elliot. Phoenix have a talented generation of youngsters on their hands, and the wily experience of the pair would add to the development of the current youngsters at the club.
Furthermore, Perth Glory would likely be willing to release these two players, with the pair getting on in age and Perth facing a gruelling ACL schedule next season. The Phoenix have no such continental commitments, however, which would fit the ageing pair perfectly.
So, what do you think? Should the Phoenix go for a like-for-like replacement or reinvent themselves? Let me know in the comments below!