Sounds of silence at Phoenix
The silence is deafening for foundation Wellington Phoenix midfielder Vince Lia.
A decade on from the Phoenix’s confirmation as an A-League football club, Lia remains the only player to have gone the distance.
But, judging by the noises, or lack of noise, coming from Martin Luckie Park headquarters, the 32-year-old’s time in the capital may be nearing an end.
‘‘I haven’t had any conversations with anyone [at the club],’’ Lia said, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Melbourne Victory.
Pressed further on his future, Lia said: ’’I’m not sure, to be honest. Football is a funny game and that’s why people move on so often. There’s lots of different places to go. It’s a hard one for the club without a new coach signed, whether Chris [Greenacre] and Des [Buckingham] keep the job or not. I’ve had no chat.’’
With goalkeeper Glen Moss linked with a move to South Africa, the Phoenix could lose a combined 400-plus appearances if he and Lia aren’t retained.
Whatever happens, Lia isn’t ready to hang up his boots just yet, a month after being granted a testimonial match. ’’[I’ll play] anywhere mate, I just want to keep playing football.’’
Co-coach Buckingham was equally guarded about Lia’s immediate future. Buckingham and Chris Greenacre are making their proposals to the Phoenix owners about who to retain and who to jettison, with three games remaining and only a small mathematical chance of making the playoffs.
‘‘There’s been a lot of discussion around next season,’’ Buckingham said.
‘‘One is the players we want to keep. One is the turnaround of players coming off contract, and more importantly recruitment for next season. We’ve had those discussions, we’ve put forward our recommendations and we’re hoping in the next couple of weeks there will be some movement.’’
Buckingham is equally uncertain about his own future at the club, after he and Greenacre took over from Ernie Merrick as interim coaches in January. He said there had been no discussions with the club about applying for the fulltime role for next season.
‘‘There’s been no further movement since the press conference when we were announced. We can only control what we can control, and that’s this weekend’s game in Melbourne with a fully fit squad and Jacob Tratt back in the fold which is great. Everyone’s in a good space.’’
Indeed, a 5-0 win will do that for a team, even as they face missing the playoffs without a fulltime coach confirmed.
Last weekend’s romp against Newcastle, without their All Whites contingent, surprised even themselves and means they tackle the daunting trip to Melbourne with a spring in their legs. Buckingham reported no injuries among the players returning from international duty.
It also means selection headaches as returning internationals apply the heat, to face a team they suffered a 6-1 drubbing against in Melbourne on October 31.
‘‘The players that came in [last weekend] stepped up and put in a really good performance. I don’t think anyone saw 5-0 coming. They’ve done themselves no harm at all and it’s going to be a very hard selection problem,’’ Buckingham said.