Phoenix have their man but he re­mains a mys­tery

Weekend Herald - - WHAT’S ON - Ja­son Pine

The Welling­ton Phoenix have found their new head coach — but he won’t be un­veiled un­til early next month.

In a mes­sage to Phoenix mem­bers, gen­eral man­ager David Dome has told them the club has a signed con­tract with their pre­ferred can­di­date.

“Pend­ing flights and im­mi­gra­tion, we look for­ward to pre­sent­ing our new head coach in Welling­ton, early June,” he said.

The new coach is Euro­pean and new to the A- League.

He is de­scribed by Dome as hav­ing “a deep knowl­edge of Euro­pean foot­ball, ex­pe­ri­ence of de­vel­op­ing young tal­ent and a wide net­work of scout­ing con­tacts”.

Dome also paid trib­ute to Chris Greenacre and Des Buck­ing­ham, who took in­terim charge of the side af­ter Ernie Mer­rick’s res­ig­na­tion nine games into the 2016- 17 A- League sea­son.

Both ap­plied for the role of head coach but were un­suc­cess­ful.

“Com­ing in amid dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances co- coaches Des Buck­ing­ham and Chris Greenacre per­formed ad­mirably, pick­ing up a points- per- game ra­tio that across a full sea­son would have seen Phoenix qual­ify for their fifth fi­nals ap­pear­ance in 10 sea­sons,” said Dome.

“Chris and Des earned the right to in­ter­view for the top job next sea­son and im­pressed the foot­ball com­mit­tee with their tac­ti­cal aware­ness and vi­sion for the club.

“While they have been un­suc­cess­ful this time, in Des and Chris, we be­lieve we have two of the most tal­ented young coaches cur­rently ac­tive in Aus­trala­sia,” said Dome.

It’s not known if Buck­ing­ham or Greenacre are in line for — or would be in­ter­ested in — as­sis­tant roles un­der the new struc­ture.

Dome said the new coach has been talk­ing to the club’s foot­ball op­er­a­tions depart­ment, as­sess­ing the cur­rent play­ing squad and po­ten­tial new sign­ings from Aus­trala­sia and beyond.

There are 15 play­ers signed for the 2017- 18 sea­son.

De­par­tures from last sea­son in­clude All Whites goal­keeper Glen Moss, Dutch mid­fielder Roly Boneva­cia, Aus­tralian full­back Ja­cob Tratt and ev­er­green New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz.

Play­ers off con­tract in­clude Spanish mid­fielder Alex Ro­driguez, vet­eran Vince Lia, striker Hamish Wat­son and goal­keeper Lewis Ital­iano.

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