Comment: Resignation right for Phoenix

21:31, Feb 25 2013

Ricki Herbert's impending ''resignation'' is the right thing for the Wellington Phoenix.

Less than 5000 people turned up to watch the club's home game against Adelaide United on Sunday, highlighting a Phoenix season that had veered dramatically off the rails.

Herbert and Terry Serepisos built the club from the ground up but after six years at the helm the on-field product had become stale.

Bottom of the A-League, and suffering 7-1 and 5-0 thrashings, was simply not good enough for a squad on paper considered to be the best in the club's history.

After three years of qualifying for the generous top-six playoffs, the reasons for the sudden decline this season are complex.

In part Herbert had run out of ideas and taken a squad built on All Whites veterans as far as he could.

The club's desire for a more attractive playing style didn't help his cause and he became confused and torn between chasing style points and actual ones.

Juggling twin coaching hats at the Phoenix and All Whites was also allowed to continue for too long.

It was impossible to do justice to both jobs and, with World Cup qualification games to prepare for, Herbert's reported move to a ''football technical advisor'' role at the Phoenix would allow him to dedicate more time to the national cause.

Should Herbert go or have stayed?

Have your say below.

Of course, the big question now is, who replaces Herbert?

With five games remaining this season, the timing is good as it allows the incoming coach a chance to make his own decisions on player retention and recruitment.

Of the current assistants Chris Greenacre is too green, while Jonathan Gould is a goalkeeping specialist.

Given Herbert is set to stay at the club in some capacity, Neil Emblen leaps out as an obvious candidate.

The former English Premier League player has coached Waitakere United to national league titles and won praise from Ryan Nelsen for his work with the Oly Whites at the London Olympics.

Emblen has worked alongside Herbert with both the Oly Whites and All Whites.Others to have already put their hands up are former Phoenix assistant Luciano Trani and former Phoenix captain Ross Aloisi, now coaching in Adelaide.

Ante Milicic, the assistant coach at Western Sydney Wanderers, would have strong credentials, as would former All White Gavin Wilkinson, who is general manager at the Portland Timbers.

Herbert will be remembered favourably for his work in building the only credible professional football club in New Zealand history.

But the league's longest-serving coach had lost his way and change is necessary.


The Dominion Post