Departing New Zealand Football technical director believes organisation is performing 'really well'

Rob Sherman, left, predicts good things ahead for Anthony Hudson and the All Whites in 2017.
SHANE WENZLICK/PHOTOTEK

Rob Sherman, left, predicts good things ahead for Anthony Hudson and the All Whites in 2017.

Outgoing New Zealand Football technical director Rob Sherman predicts "reasonably calm waters" ahead following a challenging period for the organisation.

The national body earlier this month announced Sherman would be stepping down for personal reasons from the role he started in October last year.

A former technical director of the Welsh Football Association and head of coach education at Football Federation Australia, Sherman took over the position when high performance director Fred de Jong resigned in the wake of the Olympic eligibility saga.

That situation saw the New Zealand under-23 men's team kicked out of Oceania's qualifying tournament for the Rio Games for fielding an ineligible player and early in 2016 there were more flames to be doused for NZF.

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All Whites coach Anthony Hudson hit out publicly in January around a lack of games for his team and a "soft" culture among some of the country's top young players and in February the Phoenix had to send English striker Alex Jones home after NZF missed the Fifa deadline to complete the loan application.

But according to Sherman, those instances had clouded a lot of good work done in a number of areas.

"The organisation is performing really well," he said. "So much has gone on with the growth of the game.

"There is a whole raft of things which perhaps don't attract attention when there is one or two items that do but we need to focus on the positives. Particularly in the last 12 months, the organisation has performed very well.

"I see reasonably calm waters. There is a clear strategy and direction and they'll be committed to bring that to life. That is where the attention is and I don't see too many risks."

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To evidence his point, Sherman pointed to the "big focus" that had been placed in his specialist area of coach education and the release last month of a national football curriculum to guide, player, coach and team development across the country.

He also believed the country's elite teams were in "great shape", with the All Whites preparing for a 12 month period which included the Confederations Cup and the final phases of their bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

While he did not want to speculate on what was different under Hudson from previous managers, Sherman said he could only see good things happening for the national men's team in the immediate future.

"There are tremendous processes which take place.

"They are very thorough in their preparations, there is great communication to the players, a great coaching methodology, a clear philosophy and a good culture.

"I see all the things you'd expect from a top team and a top coach."

Sherman was equally optimistic on the futures of the Football Ferns and the Stirling Sports Premiership.

Despite the New Zealand women not progressing from the group stage at either last year's World Cup or this year's Olympics, he felt the 18th-ranked Ferns had made "massive strides" and were well placed with their squad to do "really well" at the Tokyo Games.

The expanded national men's league, which is up two teams to 10 for the 2016-17 season, had been competitive and would only go from strength to strength, Sherman said.

What shape the league would take beyond the 2017-18 season, when the two-year licences of the three new teams ended, is set to be revealed at the end of March next year.

Sherman indicated it could feature some changes, including potentially a longer season and a promotion/relegation process.

"It is all up for debate and we have to respect wishes of stakeholders. I'm sure people will want to position the league so it is sustainable and continues to grow."

Sherman's final day at NZF is yet to be confirmed but will likely be in late January or early February. He will retain a connection to the organisation by continuing to lead the delivery of the coach licensing programme.

The vacant technical director position has been advertised, with a closing date for applications of January 20.

 - Stuff

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