Soccer: Phoenix coach to be named next month

By Daniel Richardson

The Wellington Phoenix will have a new coach by the end of next month. Photo / Getty Images.
The Wellington Phoenix will have a new coach by the end of next month. Photo / Getty Images.

The Wellington Phoenix will have a new coach by the end of next month.

Phoenix general manager David Dome confirmed today that the head coaching role with the A-League strugglers would be officially advertised next week, and a worldwide search would be undertaken to find the best applicant. An appointment wold be made in April.

"We certainly want to get it done ASAP, but at the same time we want to make sure that we aren't making a rash decision," Dome said.

"We want to make sure that we take all the appropriate steps to get the best possible candidate for the role because it's absolutely hugely important and crucial to the future of the club to appoint the right person."

Foundation coach Ricki Herbert resigned last week. His choice to step down came at an inconvenient time for the club, which had recently opened negotiations with a handful of players who are off contract at the end of this season.

All Whites Tony Lochhead, Leo Bertos and Mark Paston are all off contract at season's end and it remains up in the air if they will be retained.

Dome said they wanted to appoint a new coach shortly so the successful applicant could have a say in who would be on the roster for next year, as opposed to if they came on board in June or July when most of the squad would be inked.

CVs have already made their way over Dome's desk at Phoenix HQ, and he said they had received expressions of interest in the coaching role from all over the world.

A sub-committee of six people, including Dome, will chose the next Phoenix coach, while they will also take on the thoughts of two or three independent consultants, he said.

The Phoenix have three games left in the A-League season, and a few of those off-contract players are competing for their futures at the club.

Aside from the three front-line All Whites, Ian Hogg, Dani Sachez, Alex Smith, Jimmy Downey, Lucas Pantelis and Benjamin Totori are the other players who are off contract at the end of the season.

Downey and Pantelis won't be back in Wellington next season, while Solomon Islands' international Totori will have an option activated on his deal that will see him pull on a Phoenix jersey again next summer.

It's understood that the seldom-used Smith has been told by the club they will negotiate with him next month, although he recently spent a week in China looking at the possibility of joining a team in Beijing.

Lochhead, who is club's all-time appearance leader with 129 games, said he wanted to return to the Phoenix but was yet to receive an offer.

"If the opportunity's there I'd be open to coming back, for sure," Lochhead said.

"I've been here for a while so we've got the new owners come in and it's an exciting time, so hopefully things are improving for the better. But it's not really up to me. It's up to them; if they're going to offer me something or not.

"So I'll just work hard for the rest of these games and see what happens."

Sanchez holds one of the precious import spots, and the Spaniard said he wanted to return next year.

"It's a funny time. Everyone wants to know their future but now the thing is it's the time to wait because the club have had a lot of change in the last week," Sanchez said.

"So everyone was wondering what's happening next year, but I hope to be back. Now I'm thinking about the next game and I'll do my best and see what happens."

The Phoenix meet Western Sydney at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday evening.

- APNZ

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