Support staff increase needed for Wellington Phoenix to be successful next season
You often hear sports teams talk about getting the "one per centers" right.
The little things can make a big difference, they say. In the case of the Wellington Phoenix, it would appear they are not a priority.
Current co-coach Des Buckingham pointed out as much after training on Thursday when responding to a question about what could be improved next season.
"They are small things, but small things are quite important in this league where there there are a lot of similarities.
"Video analysis was one key thing. The games where we've been able to review at halftime what has worked well and what hasn't with our video analyst, Valerio Raccuglia, who left for Samoa, we've not yet replaced him, so we've not been able to video our sessions at trainings and do that instant feedback in games that was really useful.
"Those little things, there were probably two or three of those key areas, they make a big difference, especially in a 23-man squad, salary cap league."
Buckingham pointed out they tried workarounds, with the classic Phoenix mentality of mucking in and getting the job done on full display.
"We can do it, it's a case of just making sure that when we do it we make sure we've got it ready to go when we need it, otherwise the way we have been working around it has been asking some of the support staff in strength and conditioning or the physios to video the sessions, or the games themself, of which Chris and myself have then gone back through and reviewed."
The first point of interest there was the fact Raccuglia, and then some of the physios, were asked to be video analysts. It harks back to everyone having at least two jobs at the Phoenix in that Raccuglia was also the reserve team assistant coach and Marco Rossi's Italian interpreter.
The second point was that the club management didn't deem it important enough to replace Raccuglia when he left to become Samoa Football's technical director in mid February.
Even amateur club teams in Wellington have video analysts.
It would seem a high priority wasn't placed on it at Phoenix HQ. As Buckingham pointed out, it helped them in games earlier in the season.
It could well have helped them with some of their results late in the season, with the 3-1 loss to Sydney FC, when they were down 2-1 at halftime, and the 3-3 draw with Perth Glory, when they were up 2-1 at halftime, springing to mind.
Sure, those games might have played out the same even with a video analyst making some observations at halftime, but if you're not going to give your coaches the same tools as their opposition then it's very hard to hold them to the same standard.
Buckingham's comments should be interpreted as simply wanting the club to succeed next season. It's admirable from him that even if he is not in charge, he still wants to see the club do well.