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Can Darijie Kazelec revive the fortunes of Wellington Phoenix next season?

From Brian Ashfield.
June 2017.

A few eyebrows were raised at the recent appointment of Darijie Kazelec at perennial strugglers Wellington Phoenix. His lack of A-League experience is seemingly a huge gamble for the club, who are widely predicted for yet another underwhelming campaign.

Source: Hyundai A-League via Twitter

It's becoming quite the post-season tradition at Wellington Phoenix. When the final whistle blows on their campaign, the club brace themselves as a number of bids arrive for their star performers and they are cherry-picked by a number of wealthier and more successful A-League sides. 2017 is business as usual with playmaker Roly Bonavecia departing for Western Sydney Wanderers.

The talented Dutch playmaker may only have netted four times for the club this season but his ability and creativity in the middle of the park will be difficult to replace and is one of the first challenges facing the new man in charge. Kosta Barbarouses will also depart after deciding his future lies elsewhere. A huge blow for the club.

So, who exactly is Darijie Kazelec?

Phoenix fans will have been frantically typing his name into search engines when the announcement was made at the beginning of June and will have found very little A-League experience on his CV. This relative unknown could be described as a huge gamble by the New Zealand based outfit but he does have a talent for spotting potential in young players.

His managerial career spans as far and wide as Stockport County in England through to a recent stint at Al-Taawon in Saudi Arabia. He will be assisted by the experienced Rado Vidosic which appears to be a savvy move by the club.

The team had three different managers last season and desperately require some stability if they hope to improve on their 7th placed finish which saw them end 36 points behind Sydney FC. They have been chalked up as outsiders for the title next season with few punters as these soccer tips predict expecting a quick turnaround at the club. They've conceded 100 goals across the last couple of seasons which is an area of huge concern for the new managerial team.

Darijie Kazelec must be granted time to turn the fortunes of the club around. Attendances have been dropping for a number of seasons, with the managerial upheaval not helping matters. Finding exciting young players to light up the A-League would help get the supporters back on side. The academy is burgeoning with talent and this requires nurturing and the Swiss-Bosnian coach has a reputation for developing the next generation so must be given time to bed them into the senior team.

If Wellington Phoenix are to become a potent force in the A-League they must give Kazelec plenty of time. Pressing the panic button again will only set the club back and not help with continuity.

Unearthing adequate replacements for the departing stars is first priority for the new coach as he finds his feet down under. It may take a few seasons but Kazelec's appointment is an exciting one and he must be given carte blanche to develop the academy players into potential A-League superstars. He could be the right man to revive the fortunes of Wellington Phoenix.


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