Phoenix's latest signing beggars belief

DANNY HAY
Last updated 05:00 17/02/2013
Carlos Hernandez
Getty Images
FOE TO FRIEND: Carlos Hernandez in action for the Victory against the Phoenix in 2009.

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OPINION: It could be the next Tui ad to spring up in Wellington - "There will be an end of season review. Yeah, right".

With the announcement last week that the Phoenix have signed Carlos Hernandez for the next two seasons, it appears that Ricki Herbert's job as coach is guaranteed.

It seems implausible to think the club hierarchy would allow him to sign players ahead of next season if he wasn't going be in charge. That would make no sense.

After all, Herbert deserves to remain on his pedestal, doesn't he? He has a record of 51 wins from 146 league games in charge, with two fourth places as best finishes (in a 10-team league).

Oooh, that doesn't sound great! Well, maybe it's this season's efforts and the fantastic numbers through the gates that have persuaded Morrison, Morgan and co that he is that right man to finally lead the club to a grand final.

Those looking at the glass half full will say that 21 points from 20 games is more than a point a game - that's good, isn't it?

If the Phoenix bosses do come to their senses at season's end and realise what everybody else has known for some time, that there is a desperate need for change, then the signing of Hernandez is still a bizarre move.

Surely a new coach would want to recruit players that fit into their own tactical philosophy and style. Anybody coming in is already going to be lumped with inadequate players from the old regime. The last thing they'll need are new players to add to those who also don't fit the bill.

It is unfair, and quite frankly ludicrous, to expect results and a change in culture if a coach isn't given the opportunity to sign their own players. Herbert has been given that courtesy for the past six seasons, and for what? A spot in the over-inflated, money-making finals system to allows teams with a losing record to be a part of the setup?

I'm not saying for a second that Hernandez is a poor player - he isn't. He won the Johnny Medal for the league's best player in the 09-10 season. But if a new coach comes in and wants to play a high pressing game that requires players to have lightning speed and extreme fitness levels, then the Costa Rican doesn't fit the bill.

As one comment read about the news of the signing, "Just what an ageing team needs . . . an expensive, injury-prone unfit player."

There is one other question that also needs to be asked if Herbert is still at the helm come season 2013-14. Even if Hernandez is at his very best, can Herbert's infamous tactical approach of "long-ball", get the best out of him?

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The game in New Zealand desperately needs the Phoenix to be a success. The club also owes it to the loyal Yellow Fever fans.

The Phoenix are the flagship team that all our aspiring young players look to as their own pathway into the professional game. It's about time some of the Phoenix's key decision makers realised that, and started making decisions that would allow the possibility of "success" to move from fantasy, to reality.

- Danny Hay is a former All White

- Sunday News

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