Manko's move leaves sour taste for WaiBop Utd

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 11/01/2014

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WaiBop United coach Peter Smith says he won't try to stop defecting star Maksim Manko.

While disappointed with the process behind Manko's coming transfer to Waitakere United, Smith said the club won't be looking to punish the attacking midfielder.

WaiBop could ask for Manko to be stood down for four weeks over the switch, effectively ruling him out of half of the remaining New Zealand Football Premiership campaign, but Smith said they won't do so, despite Manko upsetting his coach over how he handled the move.

Smith was approached on Monday by Waitakere coach Paul Temple, who said he wanted to talk to Manko about a move.

"I hoped to convince him to stay with us," Smith said.

"But given the travel, the offer they were making to him, and the O-League thrown in as well ... financially and from a playing perspective, it's probably a good thing," Smith said of the Auckland-based player who has previously played for Waitakere and Waikato FC.

"The lad's been real good for me - both on and off the field - and I wasn't going to stand in his way."

However, Smith expected Manko to train with WaiBop this week ahead of tomorrow's away match against Canterbury United.

But Manko turned out for Waitakere in a friendly on Wednesday evening against the Wellington Phoenix A side.

"They [Waitakere] were under the impression that Maksim had spoken to us," Smith said.

"He [Manko] called yesterday [Thursday] morning, and I told him he wouldn't be training and playing. He'd done a dishonourable thing.

"We've worked real hard all year on values and standards and what we're about. As I said to the players at training, there's not a player in the team, regardless of how good they are, that are bigger than the values we've set.

"If you start compromising there, you're screwed."

However, Smith said Manko has since apologised and admitted he made a bad decision.

"I think he just never thought it through."

Smith said he didn't feel that asking for a stand-down period would be beneficial to anyone.
"If a player has got aspirations and ambitions ... the game's bigger than me," Smith said.

"I want to help players get to that next level and to fulfil their potential; I don't want to stand in the way of that.

"But yes, I want to be treated with respect and courtesy and for the club to be respected and treated fairly.

"It's disappointing to lose him - he's been one of our better performers, and he's also a top lad."

Manko's absence makes the trip to Christchurch even tougher for the sixth-placed WaiBop side, who are also looking to bolster their team in the transfer window period.

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Strikers Ethan Galbraith and Sam Messam are likely to sign next week, but All Whites defender Tony Lochhead won't be coming on board at this stage.

"He's got a few options on the table and is looking to go overseas relatively soon," Smith said of the former Phoenix left back.

"If things fall through he'd be keen to be involved."

Smith said the Manko saga would be another test for his side to overcome against a Canterbury team four points above them in the table.

WaiBop stunned Canterbury with a 2-1 victory in the season-opener in Rotorua but the return of occasional All Whites midfielder Aaron Clapham has since seen an improvement in results for tomorrow's hosts.

"They've got a wee bit of consistency and have been on a wee bit of a roll," Smith said.

"Aaron Clapham is making them tick, but we'll have a gameplan that we'll stick to and it certainly won't be easy for Canterbury.

"There's time when you're pushed into a corner, you've got to come out fighting.

"You find out who the players are that'll shrink into a corner and those who will roll their sleeves up and say, ok, bring it on."

- Waikato Times

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