Nelsen fails to go gracefully, Herbert in dark

JACOB PAGE
Last updated 05:00 12/01/2013
Ricki Herbert
FAIRFAX NZ
OUT OF THE LOOP: All Whites' coach Ricki Herbert is yet to hear from his captain Ryan Nelsen about whether he plans to retire from international football.

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OPINION: Make no mistake about it, this Ryan Nelsen saga is awkward. The Queens Park Rangers (QPR) defender and arguably New Zealand's best footballer since Wynton Rufer, has not covered himself in glory with his handling of his impending move to coach Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit, Toronto FC.

There appears to be a lack of communication between Nelsen, who is the All Whites captain, and New Zealand Football about the 35-year-old's decision which looks likely not only to spell the end of his international career but also to deal a serious blow to New Zealand's chances of qualifying for the 2014 Fifa World Cup.

It seems the national body was one of the last to know of Nelsen's decision and while it is hard to know whether to blame Nelsen entirely for this error, he must shoulder most of the responsibility.

As the captain and face of football in New Zealand, he should have been more forthcoming with his position to All Whites coach Ricki Herbert and high performance manager Fred de Jong.

The duo have tried best not to show any frustration at the situation they have been put in but there must be some annoyance behind the scenes.

It appears they are happy to downplay it because they know Nelsen is bigger than the game itself in this country.

New Zealand Football should have been kept in the loop.

Herbert stated when he spoke at the 2011 South Canterbury Sports Awards that he wanted Nelsen to lead the side through another World Cup qualification campaign and on to the tournament itself next year.

Herbert is, for now, happy to wait for a phone call from Nelsen.

The phone call is long overdue.

New Zealand Football may not pay his wages but as captain of the national side, it desreved an explanation in private as well as clarity on what future the former Blackburn Rovers player has at the international level.

The same could have been afforded to QPR, who now seem destined to lose one of their best defenders before the end of the season when they are struggling for premier league survival.

It is not that Nelsen is retiring that is the issue, it is how he is going about it. It looks rushed, secretive and lacking in class.

Nelsen is a classy footballer and he deserves to retire on his terms but a little communication never hurt.

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- The Timaru Herald

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