Former Phoenix great Paul Ifill believes coach Mark Rudan will leave the A-League club at the end of the season and should receive nothing but plaudits if he does.
Rudan's future in Wellington is a source of growing speculation, with the former championship-winning Sydney FC captain having been linked with the newly-formed Western United FC.
The 43-year-old is discussing his future with Phoenix bosses this week, having publicly vented his displeasure with aspects of their leadership over the last two weeks.
Without going into specifics, Rudan has said the Phoenix need to rid themselves of a small club mentality and be more ambitious with their spending.
He said management blundered in their early-season decision to take Saturday's "home" loss to Sydney FC to Campbelltown Stadium, accusing them of not backing the sixth-placed Phoenix to be in finals contention by this stage of the season.
Chief executive David Dome wasn't available for comment on Monday.
Former Phoenix forward Ifill expects Rudan to return to Australia one season into his rookie two-year A-League contract, with the coach having also expressed a desire to be closer to his family.
"I think he goes," Ifill told Radio Sport.
"Let's enjoy it while it lasts. He's done a great job and if he decides to go on to pastures new, it's because he's done such a great job and we should be thankful.
"If he does go, and I sincerely hope he doesn't, he's left the club in a better space."
The traditional strugglers had been transformed this season both on and off the field, with most of the improvement credited to Rudan's drive.
Ifill said chairman Rob Morrison and the Phoenix board face a big call whether to bow to Rudan's requirements.
"Why not call them out? What are they going to do?" Ifill said.
"Rob Morrison has come out and said he likes Mark as a person, full of integrity and blah blah blah.
"Do they really want to back him? Do they really want to see this club as a club that could win the A-League in the next few years?"