Phoenix getting stronger

Wellington Phoenix's off-season ownership drama is now a distant memory, with coach Ricki Herbert predicting the New Zealanders will continue build into an "incredibly strong club".

Wellington Phoenix's off-season ownership drama is now a distant memory, with coach Ricki Herbert predicting the New Zealanders will continue build into an "incredibly strong club".

Phoenix's future was under question during a trying few months in the Kiwi capital over the break, when club founder Terry Serepisos hit financial difficulty and was forced to relinquish his ownership.

Uncertainty creeped into all parts of the club - including the football department, where Herbert was heavily restricted in terms of payroll, recruitment and staffing.

As a result, Wellington took a depleted squad into the season but based on recent results, you wouldn't know it.

The 'Nix now have seven wins for the season, with Sunday's 1-0 triumph on the Gold Coast their first victory on Australian soil this term, and in new owners the Welnix consortium, they have steady leadership.

That's far more than what most pundits expected given the troubles they went through in pre-season.

"You can put a cloud across that and hide behind it or you can step up and give it your best shot," Herbert said.

"We haven't hidden away from that. It was a difficult time."

"You're seeing a resolute group of guys now who have knuckled down. Not too many people gave us much of an opportunity to be anywhere near this at the start of the year."

"We've got a small group and some pretty dedicated players who give 100 per cent every week, and we're in the mix."

When the Serepisos regime ended, money was so tight that Herbert had to appoint senior players Chris Greenacre and Tony Warner as deputy coaches.

But not anymore.

"We've got what we've got and the club is building. You can see that in advertisements for assistant coaches and goalkeeping coaches," he said.

"This club is going to be incredibly strong. It's got fantastic owners with long-term thinking and we're chugging along OK in the league."

"To be sitting where we are, turning the corner with 10 games to go, we're a chance. That's all I can ask for from my team."

Herbert signaled an extended run in the first team for shotstopper Mark Paston, who played in first game since week 1.

The star of New Zealand's 2010 World Cup campaign, the veteran answered every question posed to him by a talented Gold Coast strikeforce, vindicating the coach's decision to give him a berth ahead of Warner.

"He'll stay in. Tony was back-up keeper when he came to the club but with Mark getting injured early on he didn't disappoint, he did really well."

"But Mark should have a little run in the team now so it'll be up to him," he said.