Ricki Herbert was already cutting his ties with Wellington before he quit as coach of the Phoenix.
The resignation of the A-League's longest-serving coach was announced by the club yesterday, though it was not made clear to what extent he jumped or was pushed.
The Dominion Post understands his future was formally discussed at a meeting among the Phoenix hierarchy a fortnight ago - after the team's 5-0 drubbing by the Central Coast Mariners - and Herbert had feared for his job since.
He is already in the process of selling houses he owns in Evans Bay and Paraparaumu.
Phoenix general manager David Dome dismissed reports linking the club's management with Herbert's resignation, though he admitted the subject may have been broached.
"There are board meetings and there are sub-committees within the board that have regular meetings all the time. And at one of those meetings - there is a coaching committee, for example - they may have discussed it.
"[But] put it this way, certainly I'm not aware of that if that meeting occurred. There was never an ultimatum put in front of [him].
"Ricki came into the office [on Monday] and met with [club chairman] Rob Morrison and myself and tendered his resignation at that time. Ricki has been under pressure and he's felt the pressure of results," he said.
Herbert will take on an advisory role within the club next season, and his assistant Chris Greenacre will coach for the season's five remaining matches.
Herbert did not return calls yesterday, but said in a statement that he wanted to focus his attention on the All Whites. He has split his time between the Phoenix and the national team since the creation of the Phoenix in 2007.
"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," he said.
"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 . . ."
Former Phoenix owner Terry Serepisos, who appointed Herbert to the job in 2007, said the loss of Herbert was one of a series of disappointments the club had endured under its new owners.
He would not comment on whether Herbert was pushed, but said: "I'll tell you one thing, whatever the board decisions they've made this year, they're terrible . . . They have taken [the club] back to the Stone Age.
"It's not the boys' fault. It all starts from above . . . [and] I don't think it's all Ricki's fault. The way the club is run . . . It's run quite poorly, actually. It is disappointing because the Phoenix was like a child to me - it was born, it was created by myself and Ricki.
"So basically [now] you're looking at a little child and it's not being brought up right . . . The guys that have got it at the moment don't have any idea . . . Gareth Morgan obviously knows nothing about football."
The Phoenix play the Newcastle Jets tonight at Westpac Stadium, but there will be no official send-off for Herbert. "It was put to Ricki, whether he wanted us to do something," Mr Dome said. "But he felt he didn't want to distract the players or Chris Greenacre by turning up to the game."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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