Steve Corica admits he was disappointed to lose his Sydney FC assistant Ufuk Talay after one A-League season but concedes Wellington have landed themselves a winner.
Talay is emerging as one of the coaching finds of the competition, having turned the Kiwi club gutted by player and management departures into a highly-competitive unit.
The Phoenix are sixth and on a six-game unbeaten streak after their 2-2 draw with leaders Sydney FC on Saturday.
Corica wasn't surprised at Talay's impact, saying it was clear to him the former midfield workhorse had the nous and temperament to succeed when the pair steered the Sky Blues to last year's title.
Mark Rudan's exit from Wellington opened the door to the ambitious 43-year-old Talay.
"Obviously I was disappointed that he wanted to take up the opportunity, especially after only one year. But you can't stand in his way," Corica said.
"Obviously I gave him the opportunity to come to Sydney last year. He's got a good football brain.
"We're a little bit different character-wise but similar in the way we want to play our football and the way we both want to win.
"I have no doubt they'll be in the top six."
Corica said Wellington's 4-4-2 setup and defensive tightness had obvious similarities to Sydney, which was only natural given the Sky Blues' recent success.
He had done the same himself when succeeding Graham Arnold at Sydney 18 months ago.
"When you have success at a club you take a lot with you because it works, basically," he said.
Meanwhile, Corica is confident of having most of his big guns on deck for Sunday's table-topping clash with Melbourne City, including Milos Ninkovic.
The Serbian playmaker showed no signs of his calf niggle when introduced off the bench in the second half in Wellington, playing an influential part in the visitors' late surge and equalising goal.
Corica estimated midfielder Brandon O'Neill faced another three weeks on the sideline due to a knee injury.