Report Card - Wellington Phoenix

The Phoenix rose from the ashes of what was a tumultuous pre-season to produce something special.

Beset by off-field problems early in the year, it looked for all the world like Wellington Phoenix might struggle to even field a team, let alone make a run at the top four... but the club was saved, the players banded together and under Ricki Herbert they defied the critics.

They also finally learned to win away from their beloved ‘Caketin- otherwise known as Westpac Stadium, and didn-t their away fans enjoy it, getting their shirts off as if they were partying at a Wellington win at Westpac.

Sure, the final loss at the hands of Perth Glory was disappointing, but they were hardly the lone ranger there and ultimately delivered their fans something a little special in 2011/12, the only sad note being the unexpected retirement of Tim Brown.

Defence

Conceding just 32 goals in 27 matches was a significant effort by Wellington-s backline and made them the third stingiest in the competition behind the Mariners and Roar.

On the goalkeeping front they looked more stable once Mark Paston made his long-awaited return, replacing Tony Warner and their defenders were frequently amongst their best players.

Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante, Tony Lochead and Manny Muscat all exceptional throughout the season and all chipped in with goals at the other end as well.

Midfield

While Dani Sanchez may have done little at the end of the season both he and Daniel did well to start the season.

At the other end of the spectrum Leo Bertos finished the season in terrific form and led the assists for the club with six, providing plenty of crosses which led to goals.

Still the man who was their best in the middle all year was Tim Brown, it-s impossible to forget his spectacular volley that beat Liam Reddy at ‘The Caketin- and he provided the impetus for many a Phoenix forward foray.

His six goals were also a huge help to the Nix- season, long story short, he will be hard to replace next season.

Attack

The underrated Chris Greenacre partnered up with Paul Ifill and these two didn-t disappoint anyone. 13 goals between them out of 34 means they scored over a third of the team-s goals and did their job.

While Greenacre was consistent, Ifill was brilliant, especially late in the season as the Nix charged towards the finals. The only problem with their attack was that it was limited. Outside of these two they had Alex Smith and Mirjan Pavlovic, who are solid but there isn-t a lot of depth there, it-s an area the Nix can improve upon.

Coach

Graham Arnold may have won Coach of the Year but Ricki Herbert can-t have been far off. He got his team to win away from home, traditionally a hard sell and wasn-t afraid to win ugly, parking the bus at times when the team got an early or unexpected lead.

Ricki Herbert: 27 games, 12 wins, 11 losses, 4 draws; 42 points from a possible 63.

Wellington Phoenix Overall Grade: B+