The Wellington Phoenix's A-League season is over. How did the players perform? Jason Pine hands out his player ratings.
Stefan Marinovic 8.5 (out of 10)
(27 games, 27 starts, 0 goals)
When Filip Kurto left the club, many wondered who could replace the reigning A-League goalkeeper of the season. The answer was the towering Kiwi stopper, who turned out to be an upgrade. Terrific season.
Luke Devere 7
(24 games, 24 starts, 0 goals)
Mr Reliable in central defence, going about his business with a minimum of fuss and maximum efficiency. Signed on a one-year deal, he was a rock in Wellington's rearguard and is deserving of a contract extension.
Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi 6.5
(11 games, 4 starts, 0 goals)
Finally got his opportunity to play A-League after years of impressing at domestic level. While his opportunities were limited, he did a solid job as a defensive utility.
NZ Football's next big thing? Inside the rise and rise of Liberato Cacace
Matti Steinmann 7.5
(24 games, 24 starts, 0 goals)
The German was a calm and composed figure in Wellington's midfield, breaking up opposition attacks and setting his own side in motion when in possession. Is yet to commit for another year, but can be proud of his first A-League campaign.
Tim Payne 7.5
(16 games, 15 starts, 0 goals)
Took over from an injured Louis Fenton at right-back and made the spot his own with a series of consistent performances. His season was halted by an off-field indiscretion, then injury, but he emerges with an enhanced reputation and as a key member of the squad.
Reno Piscopo 7.5
(21 games, 17 starts, 2 goals)
A gifted attacker who showed often why the Phoenix forked out a sizeable transfer fee to secure his services. Wellington's most creative and dangerous player after lockdown and one who will form a key part of the Phoenix's front-line in the future.
Cam Devlin 8.5
(21 games, 17 starts, 0 goals)
After coming to Wellington from Sydney FC in search of game time, he replaced an injured Alex Rufer and held his spot at the base of Wellington's midfield with a series of tigerish performances. Utterly wholehearted and combative, but also comfortable in possession. Excellent season.
David Ball 8
(25 games, 24 starts, 6 goals)
Industrious contributor in the front third and a crucial part of the Wellington system which needed someone to do the donkey work to allow others to thrive. Scored some vital goals and never stopped running. Tireless and unsung.
Ulises Davila 9
(27 games, 24 starts, 12 goals)
The Mexican's superb pre-Covid feats had him in the Johnny Warren Medal conversation, as he provided goals, assists and many memorable moments. Dropped off after the break, but shouldn't be viewed through that filter. Best player in the competition on his day.
Jaushua Sotirio 6.5
(25 games, 15 starts, 4 goals)
Pace was the major weapon of the new Phoenix recruit and while he scored more goals than in any other A-League season, he occasionally lacked quality in front of goal, most notably in the Elimination Final loss to Perth.
Libby Cacace 9.5
(25 games, 25 starts, 3 goals)
An absolutely outstanding campaign from one of our brightest footballing prospects in many years. Clearly the best fullback in the A-League and now in need of a new football challenge, even while still a teenager. The sky is the limit for this exceptional talent as he heads to Europe. Player of the season.
Alex Rufer 6.5
(20 games, 11 starts, 0 goals)
Injury forced him out after eight games and upon his return he was limited largely to an impact role, which he filled with his usual dogged determination. Still an important figure in the team.
Louis Fenton 6
(8 games, 7 starts, 0 goals)
Injury forced him out after just four games, but was thrown a lifeline with the Covid-extended season allowing him a second crack. Has some work to do to reclaim the right-back spot with Payne and Elliot now seemingly ahead of him.
Callan Elliot 6.5
(5 games, 4 starts, 0 goals)
One of the post-Covid bright spots for the side when he took over at right-back and put in a series of promising performances. Has done more than enough to earn a contract extension.
Callum McCowatt 7
(25 games, 13 starts, 1 goal)
Featured in almost every game without ever nailing down a starting spot and had moments where he looked every inch an A-League game-breaker. Still just 21, he has yet to re-sign for next season but proved he has what it takes to excel at this level.
Steven Taylor 8.5
(27 games, 27 starts, 1 goal)
Tremendous season from the side's new skipper who was a constantly positive force, even after his side's inauspicious start. Hard to remember a bad game from the ageless defender who showed his team-mates the meaning of professionalism on a daily basis. Immense.
Ben Waine 6
(15 games, 1 start, 1 goal)
Became the club's youngest ever goalscorer in round four against Adelaide, but it was to be his only goal in 15 appearances, almost entirely as a substitute. Needs to provide greater impact from the bench but will be better for his first full season as a pro.
Gary Hooper 8.5
(21 games, 13 starts, 8 goals)
Early doubts over his fitness were dispelled as the evergreen striker became a vital cog in Ufuk Talay's front four. Clinical in front of goal and increasingly influential elsewhere on the pitch, his injury-enforced absence late in the season was a key factor in Wellington's early finals exit.
Brandon Wilson (4 games, 2 starts)
Sam Sutton (4 games, 1 start)
Walter Scott (3 games, 2 starts)
Liam McGing (3 games, 0 starts)
Ufuk Talay (Coach) 8.5
In his first season as an A-League head coach, he endured a tough start with four straight defeats but kept faith with his systems and playing group to achieve the club's best-ever regular season finish. When Mark Rudan left, there were major worries about who would take over; now, no Phoenix fan would take Rudan back over Talay if they were given the choice.