When push comes to shove - Herbert

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 28/02/2013
Ricki Herbert
Getty Images
NOT WHAT WAS NEEDED: Ricki Herbert had plenty of time to make something of the Phoenix, but never really succeeded.

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Ricki Herbert's manager, Lallit Rajpal, says Herbert needs "some space" before he elaborates on the events that led to him resigning as Phoenix coach on Monday.

Wellington dentist Rajpal, who looks after Herbert's commercial affairs, did not deny a suggestion that Herbert had been given an ultimatum of either jump or be pushed by Phoenix owners and management.

"At the end of the day, what's been said has been said," said Rajpal, strategic development manager of the Christian Cullen Management Group.

"And he's made his comments that he's resigned. I know you'd like to put some words in my mouth but at the end of the day, I think it's fair to say that's what's been done and he's made a comment and we should respect that."

Herbert was bullish after coaching the Phoenix to a 2-2 draw against Adelaide United on Sunday and gave no indication that he was poised to resign.

Phoenix general manager David Dome denied Herbert resigned before he was sacked.

"No, like we said, Rob's [Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison] always said from day one that we were going to review Ricki's role at the end of the season and that's what we were working towards," Dome said.

Herbert has accepted a role as technical football adviser at the Phoenix but Dome said the contractual details were confidential.

Herbert, Phoenix boss since the club's inception in 2007, remains coach of the All Whites.

Rajpal said he and the rest of Cullen's group were focused on supporting Herbert.

"He's going through a pretty interesting time in his life so I think the best thing to do, in all honesty, is just give him some space," Rajpal said.

"He's requested that and I think we should do that. I think that in time he'll no doubt say what he has to say . . . we're going to support him and work through the opportunities for him as we move forward. He's done a lot of good stuff, will continue to do a lot of good stuff, let's just support [him], let's make it work."

The title of technical football adviser is a far cry from a director of football role that had previously been mooted.

Dome said the advisory role would initially be for one year which would then be reviewed.

It would be a "very strong role" for the "foreseeable future".

"He will report to the board on a pretty regular basis," Dome said.

"We'll also consult with him on anything from players to the academies that he's been working quite a lot with in the last couple of weeks."

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Dome said Herbert had "unparalleled knowledge" in New Zealand football and hoped to continue to tap into his international contacts.

Herbert would not be actively involved in recruitment but his opinion would be sought.

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

- The Dominion Post

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