You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

New coach crucial to Phoenix future

AAP logoAAP 14/12/2016 Vince Rugari

Wellington Phoenix general manager David Dome admits finding the right successor to Ernie Merrick is the most important decision in the A-League club's history.

The Phoenix's shortlist is down to five names with Dome hopeful of settling on a new coach by Christmas.

South Melbourne coach Chris Taylor is reportedly in the mix while those previously linked to the job include Mark Rudan, Luciano Trani, Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx, and caretakers Chris Greenacre and Des Buckingham.

In the context of the club's long-term A-League future and the red-hot expansion debate, it is a decision Dome acknowledges the club simply cannot get wrong.

"It's absolutely crucial this club is in the finals this year, and if we're not in the finals series, we're going to be in trouble - there's no doubt about that," Dome told AAP.

"We have to be top six, if not top four, and we identified top four at the start of the season. It's not impossible.

"The next coach has to come in and take us to the next level, and that's important for us."

The expansion landscape has added a greater sense of urgency about the Phoenix's precarious position.

Around a dozen parties are knocking on the door to join an expanded A-League in 2018-19, while the New Zealand club is no guarantee of remaining in the competition beyond the 2019-20 season.

Last year, they were nearly axed to make way for a third Sydney team, but were granted a new four-year licence with further extensions conditional on improvements in key "metrics" like attendances and TV ratings.

Ten weeks into the new season and average crowds and memberships are marginally down, but Dome reckons that's because the Phoenix are more reliant on results to attract local interest than other teams.

Far from pushing the panic button, he believes the building blocks for success are in place.

The key is a coach who can "unlock" the club's potential.

"We're very sensitive to that, we do need to get those metrics up to retain the licence, 100 per cent," Dome said.

"Overall in terms of the metrics, we're not in a bad space.

"Of course we want more people coming to games, we understand you're not going to get that when you're bottom of the table.

"We know historically, when we are doing well, we get decent numbers, north of 10,000, which is where we need to be.

"If we can do that, the whole thing takes off - the country becomes obsessed with the Phoenix."

Currently ninth on the ladder, the Phoenix host Western Sydney in Auckland on Saturday.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon