Ricki Herbert's job safe but Morrison rues slump
Talk about a vote of confidence.
Not only is Wellington Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison backing Ricki Herbert to lead the club out of its current form slump, but he's guaranteeing the coach a job for at least the next three years.
Herbert's contract as head coach expires at the end of the 2012-13 A-League season but he has a two-year option beyond that on "football-related matters".
Also the All Whites boss, Herbert has coached the Phoenix since their 2007 inception for 49 wins, 32 draws and 57 losses.
And even with the Phoenix placed ninth after six games this season, Morrison had no hesitation giving Herbert his full support.
"Absolutely. At the end of this season, he gets a full review from a coaching point of view and we've got different options in there.
"He may be the coach for the next three years or he may be the football director from the end of this year, but he will absolutely be in the club, and hopefully for longer than that."
"It's frustrating that a lot of what the guys have worked on - Ricki, the players and the coaching staff - it has not quite translated on the field."
Earlier this year, Herbert, who is in China with the All Whites, declined to comment on his club future and said he would make a decision at the end of the season.
The All Whites meet China in Shanghai tomorrow 12.30am NZ time) and Herbert and the team's six Phoenix players will then head to Newcastle for Sunday's game against the Jets.
Morrison admitted that scenario was "not ideal" but "we went in with our eyes open and we accept that that's part of it. We're not complaining."
The chairman said the Phoenix's three-game losing streak was frustrating but it certainly was not a case of not working hard enough at training.
Everyone at the club, from the players, the coaches, the staff and the board, were accountable for the poor results.
"Teams go through slumps, we know that, and this is a slump, well and good. But we don't want it to carry on for much longer, that's for sure. It's about performance on the field and performance off the field and we want excellence in both, there's no question about it. From a board level down, we're setting very high standards, so we want to see performances."
Worryingly, only 6528 fans watched Sunday's 1-0 loss to the Central Coast Mariners at Westpac Stadium - well short of the 10,000 Morrison and Co need to break even.
Morrison said the poor crowds could be attributed to bad results, average weather, a tough economic climate and competition for the leisure dollar.
"But in the end it comes down to how much Wellington is prepared to support these sorts of things."
Welnix have bought a 12.5 per cent share of the Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise but Morrison stressed he and the other eight Phoenix owners remained committed to A-League success.
He said the Phoenix would continue to base themselves at Newtown Park but he wanted it to be developed into a better football facility in the long-term.
While there are unlikely to be any drastic changes in the short-term, Morrison envisaged the Phoenix and the Hurricanes could reduce their costs by sharing sports science equipment and potentially medical staff.
"It's just sensible from a business point of view. What we are interested in, within the context of Wellington, is building a high performance sports unit that all the codes can share in."