Darije Kalezic's tenure as Wellington Phoenix coach is over.
The Dutchman has left with six games still remaining in his first season at the helm, leaving club stalwart Chris Greenacre to take temporary charge for the rest of the 2017/18 A-League campaign.
Kalezic told the players last Thursday that he'd been unable to reach agreement with the club's board and wouldn't be staying for the second half of his two-year contract. Caught somewhat on the hop, the Phoenix issued a three-line statement to that effect, but there was confusion around whether Kalezic would stay on for the remainder of this season.
It seemed Kalezic was digging his heels in and - for reasons known only to him - wanted to stay for the last portion of what had been a wretched campaign. When General Manager David Dome addressed media on Thursday afternoon, it seemed clear the club wanted to sever ties immediately.
Thankfully, sanity has prevailed. When the players reported to training yesterday after a short break (they had no game over the weekend) they were told Kalezic was gone and Greenacre would be taking the reins for the rest of the season.
It'll be the third time Greenacre - who is currently coach of the club's reserve side - has stepped into the breach to cover the premature departure of a Phoenix coach. When Ricki Herbert resigned with five games to go in the 2012/13 season, he stepped up from an assistant coach role to fulfil caretaker duties. And when Ernie Merrick handed in his notice after just nine games last season, it was again Greenacre, along with fellow assistant Des Buckingham who took over.
Cutting ties with Kalezic immediately was the only sensible move the Phoenix could make. Having him still involved after he had effectively been sacked was both illogical and untenable. He'd have no motivation to achieve success at a club he was leaving and similarly the players would have found it difficult to drum up the necessary motivation to give 100 percent for a man who was in the departure lounge.
Kalezic's time at the Phoenix won't be fondly remembered. He oversaw just four wins in 21 matches and his side played some of the most disjointed football in the club's 11-year history.
His management style was abrasive and aloof and he seemed uninterested in getting close to his players in order to bring them onside with his tactical approach. As a result, there was a disconnect and a disengagement between him and his players. The outcome was a very, very poor season.
Greenacre's first job is preparing the side for Saturday's visit to Western Sydney. Beyond that there are five more games during which the Phoenix need to restore some badly dented pride and regain the faith of their fan base.
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