Jason Pine is Radio Sport's former football commentator

Football: Phoenix sign new coach

Wellington Phoenix players celebrate the goal scored by Matthew Ridenton during the Hyundai A-League, Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Wellington Phoenix players celebrate the goal scored by Matthew Ridenton during the Hyundai A-League, Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

The Wellington Phoenix have found their new head coach.

But he won't be unveiled until early June.

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."

"(He) is excellently situated to attract quality players to our football club and we look forward to announcing several key signings over the months ahead," he added.

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 have been 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 ten 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."

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.

At present there are 15 players signed for the 2017/17 season.

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

Players who are currently off-contract with the club include Spanish midfielder Alex Rodriguez, veteran Vince Lia, striker Hamish Watson and goalkeeper Lewis Italiano.

Lia is believed to have already left Wellington, with his car advertised for sale on Trade-Me, including a line which reads, "Selling as I'm moving O.S. (overseas)."

- NZ Herald

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