Phoenix last in the league, but no changes

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2013

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Ricki Herbert is set to coach the Wellington Phoenix for two more years as the struggling A-League club shelves plans to create a new director of football role.

The Phoenix are last after 16 rounds as Herbert - the league's longest-serving coach - struggles to implement a new style of play.

Herbert has a contract with the Phoenix through to the 2014-15 season and there had been suggestions he would move into a director role next season.

But Phoenix co-owner Gareth Morgan yesterday said that had been put on hold for financial reasons and Herbert had 100 per cent support as the coach.

"I just don't think we're where we want to be to enable us to have that position," Morgan told LiveSPORT radio.

"We have to get financially a bit stronger than we are and that comes down to performance on the field and a whole lot of stuff off the field.

"Eventually that's where it would be great to have Ricki because I don't think there's anybody in New Zealand football that's got as much knowledge and skill as that man. So we certainly don't want to lose him."

Herbert, who will also try to qualify the All Whites for another World Cup this year, has a record of 52 wins, 34 draws and 62 losses with the Phoenix.

Phoenix general manager David Dome told The Dominion Post Herbert would face a performance review at the end of the season.

Morgan also defended taking the pitch at Phoenix training last week.

"Every element of the business is getting looked at, every single part. So it's like saying to me, well, you know, for God's sake, you've bought this business but don't go into the creative department, what they're doing in there is top secret, or don't go into the accounting department because you wouldn't like what you see."

The Phoenix will try to snap a three-game losing streak against ninth-placed Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.

Socceroos striker Joel Griffiths will make his Sydney debut after signing from Shanghai Shenhua, but defender Pascal Bosschaart has been ruled out for the season after scans confirmed that he needed surgery on a heel injury.

"It's definitely a blow for us but we will push on with the players who have been getting the job done in recent weeks," said Sydney coach Frank Farina.

Meanwhile, All White Marco Rojas has been named the A-League's outstanding young player for December.

The former Phoenix star has scored 10 goals for the Melbourne Victory this season, including a stunning brace against the Newcastle Jets.

"I've certainly felt like I have been playing with a lot more confidence this season and most importantly, we are getting our share of results on the pitch as well," Rojas said.

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"Without the excellent service I've received this season, I don't think I'd have been able to perform anywhere near as well as I have."

Rojas is sending $3765 of sponsor-supplied equipment to his junior club, Ngaruawahia United.

- The Dominion Post

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