Ricki Herbert quits Phoenix post

Outgoing coach to focus on the All Whites

FRED WOODCOCK AND DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 13:09 26/02/2013
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ON THE WAY OUT? Ricki Herbert has reportedly tendered his resignation as coach of the Wellington Phoenix.
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PHIL REID/Fairfax NZ
TRAIN ON: The Wellington Phoenix at training, led by Chris Greenacre.

Phoenix confirm Herbert resignation

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Ricki Herbert has quit his job as the Wellington Phoenix's coach, saying he wants to focus on the All Whites.

After much speculation the club said this morning it had accepted Herbert's resignation and he had been offered an advisory role.

Herbert said he wanted to focus on his international duties with the All Whites in a busy World Cup qualification year.

He believed the time was right for a change at the club and to take on new challenges.

"The results this year have not been what anyone would have wanted and I felt that it was time for someone else to take a fresh look at things at the club," Herbert said.

"The coaching staff and players have all put in a huge effort this year but we haven't got the results we wanted.

"I've had a long and very successful tenure at the club and will always be proud of what I have achieved. But all good things must come to an end and it's time for new coaching blood and for me to move on to new and exciting challenges."

Assistant coaches Chris Greenacre and Jonathan Gould were expected to take the helm for the rest of the season.

He had a two-year option on "football related" matters - ie a director of football role - at the conclusion of his contract this season with some reports suggesting he will assume such a role.

Former New Zealand football captain Danny Hay said Herbert's departure was "inevitable" and the silver lining could be more time for him to concentrate on getting the All Whites through to the next World Cup.

Hay, a Fairfax football columnist with English Premier League experience, has been strong critic and was not surprised to hear his time in charge at the club was to come to an end.

"It's bamboozled me that he has stayed in the job so long given the mediocrity of the results. It was inevitable," Hay said.

"The writing was on the wall when the owners came out and raised questions publicly over the style of football that was being played.

"They were asking - or forcing - Ricki to change his style of coaching. The [possession] game they were seeking isn't a strength of him or his players."

Hay hoped the situation would allow Herbert to concentrate on the All Whites, who are poised to win the Oceania World Cup qualifying series, before facing a difficult home and away assignment against a Central American, North American or Caribbean country to secure a place in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"I don't think it was humanly possible to do both jobs properly, especially now with so many of our top players in different parts of the world," Hay said.

"And a coach of professional club [like the Phoenix] is a 24-7 job, 12 months of the year."

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As for the next coach of the Phoenix, Hay said the key was not to rush into a decision.

"They need to cast the net far and wide because it is an attractive job."

If the club was serious about its commitment to playing attractive football - and the signing of former A-League MVP Carlos Hernandez pointed to that - they would have to find the coach to implement that.

"They need to find a proven exponent of that style of football," Hay said.

HERBERT'S REIGN

Herbert has been in charge of the A-League club since its inaugural season in 2007/2008, but this year has seen much angst with the club's new owners wanting a new style of play. 

They were last and sixth of eight teams in the first two seasons but made the play-offs for three consecutive years leading into this season, which has been undoubtedly their worst.

They are currently last of 10 teams and have lacked spark and imagination all season, with many pundits calling for Herbert to go.

Last month Phoenix co-owner Gareth Morgan said Herbert would be the coach for the rest of this season and next, though chairman Rob Morrison later said Herbert would undergo a full review at the end of the season before any decisions were made on the 2013/14 season.

RICKI HERBERT: A TIMELINE


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