Herbert's fate hangs on season-end review

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 11/02/2013
Phoenix 2
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
BIG WEEK AHEAD: Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert.

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Wellington Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison says Ricki Herbert's job as coach is safe until the end of the A-League football season.

But Herbert's role at the club beyond that will hinge on a performance review at the end of the 2012-13 campaign.

Morrison said the Phoenix's embarrassing 5-0 loss to Central Coast on Thursday had not changed the owners' position and the ninth-placed club still had ambitions of qualifying for the top-six finals.

"His position will get reviewed at the end of the season and there's no change to that," Morrison told Newstalk ZB on Saturday.

"He gets a full review of the season, of what worked and what didn't work. We'll go through a full review of what worked from a coaching point of view and then we'll decide whether it's best that he stays in that role or whether we move him to a different role within the club. But he will be retained within the club, that's for sure."

The Phoenix started the season with title aspirations but Herbert - the league's longest serving coach - is now under increasing pressure.

A thread on the Yellow Fever website titled "Coaching Angst - Sack Ricki, Hire The Knowledgeable Mr Morgan," in reference to outspoken co-owner Gareth Morgan, had stretched to 96 pages yesterday.

"We do have fantastic support from the fans, the Yellow Fever guys are great," Morrison said.

"They feel the pain as much as we do in terms of a team that's underperforming.

"Changing things in the very short-term is more difficult than it is changing it or having a view that you can actually achieve change over a period of time. One of the great problems is trying to get alignment between the short-term strategy and the longer-term strategies and we're not doing that at the moment, that's for sure."

Herbert has coached the Phoenix since the club's inception in 2007.

Former All Whites captain Danny Hay told The Dominion Post last week he believed Herbert's time was up.

He said a worldwide search for a replacement should be conducted but former All Whites Gavin Wilkinson and Simon Elliott were possibilities.

Another former All White, Billy Harris, suggested in the Sunday Star-Times that Allan Jones, Roger Wilkinson and Chris Milicich could all do the job, while New Zealand Olympic coach Neil Emblen would also have strong claims.

Former Phoenix assistant coach Luciano Trani is also understood to be keen.In the meantime Herbert has Sunday's visit to Brisbane Roar to prepare for. He will be without suspended striker Jeremy Brockie but is hoping new signing Corey Gameiro will be available.

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The Phoenix have signed the Fulham striker on loan till the end of the season and will seek an international clearance today.

Gameiro scored all six of Australia's goals at the under-19 AFC championship to help them qualify for this year's under-20 World Cup.

The 20-year-old is described by the Phoenix as "hard working and speedy". Meanwhile, Perth Glory remain last after their 2-0 loss to Melbourne Heart, Western Sydney Wanderers improved to second by beating Newcastle Jets 2-1 and Adelaide United edged Melbourne Victory 1-0.

Contact Sam Worthington
Sports reporter
Email: sam.worthington@dompost.co.nz

- The Dominion Post

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