Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Soccer: Emblen back from Olympics and out of a job

Oly Whites coach Neil Emblen arrives back in the country today and will begin his search for a new club job almost immediately. Photo / Natalie Slade.
Oly Whites coach Neil Emblen arrives back in the country today and will begin his search for a new club job almost immediately. Photo / Natalie Slade.

Oly Whites coach Neil Emblen arrives back in the country today and will begin his search for a new club job almost immediately.

Despite winning the ASB Premiership last season, his third title in five seasons, he has parted company with Waitakere United after they failed to reach agreement. Emblen is unwilling to give up his national team roles (which include All Whites assistant to Ricki Herbert), while the club insist he needs to concentrate on the ASB Premiership and O-League campaigns.

"I'm one of 300 coaches working in international football in the world," says Emblen. "These opportunities are rare and you have to take them when they come along."

He admits he is "gutted" to be leaving Waitakere United but a compromise could not be found. Emblen also turned down the club's offer of a part-time role, working under a director of football.

"To be fair, even if they brought in Kenny Dalglish in that role, I would be a bit hurt," says Emblen. "It would be difficult to have all the responsibility for running the first team and getting results but still answerable to something else above you. That is a tough call."

Emblen is convinced it is possible to balance roles for club and country: "Ricki does it and he is with a full-time club. Four of the six [All Whites] matches are played before the season started, so I think it is more than manageable."

Emblen says he didn't miss a single ASB Premiership match last season. He admits that the Olympics occupied "half his brain" at times last season but doesn't think that is why Waitakere endured an ordinary league season (before their late revival to take the title), instead saying their struggles were mainly down to player depth.

The club say they are disappointed to see Emblen go. CEO Rex Dawkins said: "[His departure] has left a huge gap. We are very supportive of his New Zealand coaching ambitions but we needed somebody to be fully focused. We tried all avenues but hit a dead end."

The club has a shortlist of five applicants and hope to make an appointment by August 17, with pre-season training to start in September. Both Dawkins and Emblen seem to be leaving the door ajar for a possible change of heart by either party.

"Of course it would be good to have him involved in some capacity," says Dawkins, "but we'll wait and see what happens."

"I'd still love to be Waitakere manager," says Emblen. "Maybe it is not all dead and buried. If they don't find the right applicant I'm willing to talk, although my views on the national roles won't change."

- Herald on Sunday

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