A poor performance and below average recent attendance numbers have some A-League fans questioning their right to be in the league.
After their wretched recent run, not only are they at risk of losing out on a play-off spot, they are in danger of being forced out of the league altogether — a longer term threat that could become very real later down the track.
After their latest loss, a capitulation to a rampant Melbourne City at home in Round 20, the knives are predictably being sharpened once again as critics to judge the sole New Zealand side in the Aussie league.
The Wellington Phoenix franchise is arguably the most insecure in the league. The FFA decision to save them coincided with giving the rest of the A-League clubs 20+ years of time and security, while the Nix get a metric checkup every four years.
Yes, that game was a mess. The Nix were beyond poor. They were however missing Andrew Durante, Jacob Tratt, Gui Finkler and Michael McGlinchey, but the Nix will be making few excuses.
And yes, they have also lost other games in spectacular fashion this season, notably against Melbourne Victory 6–1. However, they also defeated the current second placed side 3–0 later in the season.
Instead of giving the side that makes the league an international one the chop, we should be focusing on more pressing issues which need addressing.
And before it is argued that the Nix are doing nothing for up and coming Australians, just take a look at Ryan Lowry, Adam Parkhouse and Jacob Tratt.
Here are three NPL success stories, promoted players given another chance at the kiwi outfit. How many of the Australian clubs regularly promote NPL players in their starting lineup?
This is a team that gave Blake Powell another shot and made Nathan Burns a Johnny Warren Medal winner. A place where Aussies Vinnie Lia and Andrew Durante have become heroes, with the latter converting to a full international player as an All White and the former playing since the beginning.
This is a club that tamed Manny Muscat, that created and then attracted players like Glen Moss, Kosta Barbarouses and Shane Smeltz back into their midst. It is a team that former players like Paul Ifill, Chris Greenacre, Tim Brown and Ben Sigmund call home.
If the Nix start winning, the fans will come back. Wellington need another play-off run, and need it desperately, so there is now a huge challenge ahead with just seven games of the season remaining.
It happened when the aforementioned players were at their peak and can happen again if approached correctly.
Reigning champions Adelaide United now bottom and that just reminds us that anything can happen in this league we love so much.
The Phoenix could snatch the title next term, Sydney FC could have another shot at invincibility, Central Coast Mariners could qualify for the Asian Champions League (ACL) and the Brisbane Roar could win the ACL final.
You just never know, and that is why we love this league.
Things are not looking up for the Phoenix in the near future, however. This weekend’s opponents Brisbane, the team in fourth, and they will have nothing to fear.
The Roar will be expected to beat the Phoenix at home, and that should not prove to be a difficult task.