Herbert's job teeters as Rojas show continues

Persistence. many would place it ahead of talent, wealthy parents and good looks as the key to success.

So it's heartening to hear that Ricki Herbert wants to carry on as coach of the Phoenix, to lead them out of the hole his team are in.

But does a time come when persistence isn't enough, indeed when it becomes counter productive? Every sacked manager in history was keen to carry on, believing he could turn things around. But the club president has to consider the club, not just the ego of one man, and decide whether the activity at the bottom of the hole is actually helping the team out, or just making the hole deeper.

The Welnix men don't seem as cut-throat as football bosses overseas. The Big G isn't going to ask to see Ricki in his office, telling him to bring his car keys and training gear with him, just yet. After all, with no relegation, there's not the same urgency to get results that there are in most leagues around the world. (Not that that stops other A-League bosses).

But come the end of the season, if the Phoenix finish in the bottom half of the table, Herbert might ask himself: "I'm still hungry to do it. I believe I can do it. But after six seasons, have I done it?"

If the answer is still no, then it's time to hand the climbing gear to someone else.

IT'S A funny old game. After the Phoenix lost 7-1 last week, it's accepted that on the day they were rubbish. But were they? According to trainspotters, possession was shared 50-50. Okay, it's not how much ball you have, it's what you do with it. The Nix had 23 shots to Sydney's 16, and forced nine corners to two. Okay, it's not how many chances you create, it's how many you take, and here Sydney were far superior. But if there's any comfort in being torn to pieces, it's that it was by one of the greatest players who ever lived. Alessandro del Piero was simply unplayable. Did the Phoenix give him too much space? Not really. For the first goal, del Piero was allowed half a metre in midfield, with the ball on his weaker foot. Hardly a hangable offence. His pass to put Joel Griffiths through was as brilliant as it was unexpected. For each of del Piero's three goals from open play, he was well marked, but the Italian produced more twists than a Chubby Checker concert to put New Zealand's finest defenders on their butts. Then came a master class in finishing that the Phoenix won't be given ever again. And the awarding of the penalty that del Piero converted was an abomination that also will never be repeated. Jason Colina scored another wonder goal for Sydney, leaving only the seventh as a soft goal, a result of the white hankie being waved.

At the other end, the Phoenix had chances which, on another day, might have yielded three or four goals.

So. 7-1. On the scoreboard, a hammering. On closer inspection, not the end of the world.

THE DROUGHT the Nix are going through is up there with anything the Aussie farmers have experienced. But there's a big juicy cloud forming on the horizon in the shape of today's opponents the Newcastle Jets. The unfortunately named Jets are the worst advertisement for air travel in professional sports, because every time they fly to New Zealand they do a great impression of being seriously jet lagged, airsick, or both. In their last seven visits, the Jets have collected zero points, scored just two goals, and conceded a whopping 20. The Yellow Fever might want to dress up as injuns and do a rain dance.

IF MARCO ROJAS is made a concrete offer from a top club in Europe or South America, he should pounce on it like a tabby cat on a kakapo. Though he looks like a choirboy, at 21 Rojas is old enough, good enough and hungry enough to grab such an opportunity by the jugular if it comes his way. After all, there are plenty of players performing on the world's biggest stages at a far younger age, particularly at Liverpool, who are on the boy wonder's scent. Raheem Sterling (18), Andre Wisdom (19) and Jonjo Shelvey (20) are just three playing significant roles at Anfield.

But the Reds' readiness to give youth it's chance is just one of the reasons why Liverpool would be a good fit for the Kiwi. Liverpudlians speak the same language - almost - and the lifestyle in England is also similar. Crucially, Rojas would be encouraged to play to his strength, which is to run at defenders and make the feathers fly.

Billy Harris is a former All White

Sunday Star Times