Wellington's 'Mr Fix-it' back at the helm

If Chris Greenacre ever leaves football, he’ll be well-qualified for a job as a janitor.

For the third time in his coaching career in Wellington, the former striker has been thrust into a caretaker role, this time to replace the departed Darije Kalezic with six games remaining in the Hyundai A-League 2017/18 season.

We track the career of the amiable Englishman who has become Wellington’s 'Mr Fix-It'.


Greenacre arrived at the Wellington Phoenix ahead of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season having played professionally for ten years with Mansfield Town, Stoke City and Tranmere Rovers where he was the top scorer for three of his four seasons at the League One club.

The popular striker played three seasons in the Hyundai A-League, racking up 84 appearances and scoring 19 goals.

Greenacre is also credited with doing the often unnoticed hard work which led to Paul Ifill notching a club record 33 goals.

In all three of Greenacre's campaigns, the Phoenix reached the Finals Series.



He scored Wellington's first ever Finals Series goal in their 1-1 draw with Perth Glory in 2009/10, with the Phoenix winning a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

He also scored in his last ever game for the club, a heart-breaking 3-2 extra-time loss to Perth Glory in the 2011/12 Finals Series.

At the end of that season he accepted a role as Ricki Herbert's assistant coach for the 2012/13 campaign.


Two days after a 2-2 draw against Adelaide which left Wellington bottom of the ladder after 22 rounds, Ricki Herbert resigned as Head Coach.

Greenacre was handed the reins for the remaining five matches of the campaign, starting with a home clash against Newcastle the following evening which the Phoenix lost 2-1.



The caretaker boss oversaw two wins and two losses in the side's final four matches of the campaign, not enough to avoid the wooden spoon which they 'claimed' on goal difference.

In their final game, Wellington were 2-0 down to Melbourne Victory before drawing level at 2-2, a result which would have seen them jump over Melbourne Heart.

But a late Archie Thompson goal consigned the Phoenix to defeat and tenth place.


When Ernie Merrick arrived to take over ahead of the Hyundai A-League 2013/14 season, he quickly re-appointed Greenacre as assistant coach.

Things really clicked in 2014/15 with the Phoenix spending the entire season in the top half of the table before eventually finishing fourth and losing to Melbourne City in week one of the Finals Series.

In March 2015, both Merrick and Greenacre signed three-year contract extensions.



The following season wasn't quite as positive, Wellington finishing ninth and a whopping sixteen points off the top six.

Eight games into the 2016/17 campaign, after suffering a sixth loss, Merrick tendered his resignation and it was again Greenacre, this time alongside Des Buckingham, who was given interim control.

That was made permanent in January 2017 and the pair guided the team for the rest of the season, overseeing a six-win, six-draw, seven-loss record.



That wasn't enough for the duo to gain an extension, with Darije Kalezic preferred.

Buckingham departed for Stoke City's under-23 side and Greenacre moved into roles with the Phoenix's reserve and academy sides.


Darije Kalezic's premature departure will see Greenacre step in as caretaker for a third time.

One thing he'll definitely bring is passion.

He was part of a group which established a famous Phoenix culture and brotherhood which saw them punch above their weight in his three seasons as a player.

Having endured 21 weeks this season with a coach who remained aloof and somewhat disconnected, the players will enjoy the very different approach Greenacre will bring.



There won't be too many tweaks in the playing style or team formation, although going to Kalezic's often-used back three is highly unlikely.

But there'll be a sleeves-rolled-up mentality from the side for their last half-dozen games and a desire to make themselves far more difficult to beat.

This is the bare minimum any coach should expect, but Greenacre's experiences in the rough and tumble of England's lower leagues means that attitude is ingrained in his approach to football and will be passed on to the players.