Wellington Phoenix coaches merely advisors in decisions about the club's future
There is nothing new about a football club's owners calling the shots on which players get contracts with their team.
They have every right to given it's their money which pay the salaries, but it must be tough for the likes of Wellington Phoenix co-coaches Chris Greenacre and Des Buckingham, who are merely advisors to club chairman Rob Morrison, his football committee and general manager David Dome as they make decisions on who to re-sign for next season.
"We've given a few ideas about what we think, sort of advising I suppose, on a day-to-day basis on how we feel the club should go forward, whether it's Des and I or with a new coach," Greenacre said after training on Friday.
So asking Greenacre which of the 11 off-contract players are likely to be around next season was an exercise in futility.
"It's out of our hands to be honest. We can only advise on what we think the club should do and we'll continue to do that.
"It's the board, the football committee and the chairman, the guys who run the club. We can only advise and if they think it suits then great, we'll move forward, but there is a long way to go for the rest of the season and we start deciding the fate of people's futures."
It is a setup which former coach Ernie Merrick long endured as he battled to get the players he wanted. Most recently it was securing the services of Vince Lia for this season, but Merrick eventually got his man.
It's not something which Greenacre or Buckingham will lose sleep over - they have the more pressing issue of making the top six this season to worry about. If they don't make it, then the likelihood of reappointment for next season sits somewhere near zero.
They remain just two points off the final playoff spot with eight games to play ahead of their match against Melbourne City in Wellington on Saturday. City welcome back six players who missed last weekend's 2-2 draw with Brisbane through suspension.
Wellington will be without the suspended duo of captain Andrew Durante and midfielder Gui Finkler, while 17-year-old midfield dynamo Sarpreet Singh has been added to the squad and has an outside chance of making the bench.
The news was not so good for Alex Rufer, who remains on the outer after being left out of Tuesday's friendly against Beijing BG, in which Singh showed glimpses of why he's regarded as the best young prospect at the club.
"Alex is training with us, but is out of contention at the minute," Greenacre said.
"We've told him what he needs to work on and what he needs to do to get into the team and it's up to Alex to take that opportunity...It's up to Alex to get into the team and push his way in as Sarpreet Singh has."
The likely stand-in skipper this week will be Lia, although he said after training that was yet to be confirmed. What he did know was that their performances over the last two games - 3-1 losses to the Sydney sides - were nowhere near good enough.
"Last week [against Sydney FC] was pretty poor, probably our worst game of the season, but we had a good hitout against Beijing on Tuesday, we worked on a few things and the possession was a lot better."
Lia felt the team needed to get back to doing the simple things well, as they had done when Greenacre and Buckingham first took over from Merrick in early December.
"As coaches you need to try and evolve our gameplan. Initially when they came in they worked very thoroughly on our defensive shape and making sure everyone knew their roles.
"Since then we've progressed into kind of evolving and getting different ways of playing and I think we've gone away from that solid structure and boys have stopped doing their jobs for whatever reason and it's not good enough.
"We need to do that tomorrow, it's a big game."
AT A GLANCE
Hyundai A-League, round 20
Where and when: Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Saturday 7.35pm
TAB: Phoenix $2.75, City $2.35, draw $3.45
Wellington: Glen Moss (gk), Jacob Tratt, Roly Bonevacia, Ryan Lowry, Dylan Fox, Alex Rodriguez, Kosta Barbarouses, Michael McGlinchey, Hamish Watson, Adam Parkhouse, Marco Rossi, Vince Lia (c), Tom Doyle, Lewis Italiano, Roy Krishna, Matthew Ridenton, Sarpreet Singh, Shane Smeltz
Melbourne: Thomas Sorensen, Manny Muscat, Josh Rose, Osama Malik, Neil Kilkenny, Nicolas Colazo, Anthony Caceres, Bruce Kamau, Nick Fitzgerald, Tim Cahill, Paulo Retre, Ruon Tongyik, Bruno Fornaroli (c), Luke Brattan, Fernando Brandan, Denis Genreau, Dylan Pierias, Yaren Sozer