They tend to sing from the same song sheet but it isn't unusual for newly appointed Hawke's Bay United co-coaches Chris Greatholder and Bill Robertson to always hit the same notes in unison.

Despite their history of operating like a duet on elite stages, it pays to know if Greatholder and Robertson don't see eye to eye on certain matters as it need not be counterproductive for the Thirsty Whale-sponsored team during the national summer league.

"If there are things we don't quite agree on then we'll sit down to discuss what that is to look at processes that'll give the best result for the club," says Robertson before they start embarking on their campaign to boost the provincial franchise team's profile.

That comes on the heels of mutual respect for each other on a proven path, he says, but they don't see any disadvantages to joint roles.


Greatholder says: "We've been in and around environments like this or higher in the past so we know what it takes, what's necessary and what's missing at the moment."

Togetherness, he says, is what's absent.

"We need to connect people ... to get the community around the club again to make the brand strong, proud and representing Hawke's Bay for the whole of Hawke's Bay."

Greatholder says their work started "yesterday", after the franchise appointed them on Wednesday. "My phone has not stopped and Bill's confirmed the same so it's really humbling to know that there are loads of people out there who genuinely care and are excited about the appointments on the future of Hawke's Bay United.

"That's super cool but we have a job to do immediately — like there's a big plan we want to achieve on the field so we want to do that off it as well."

He says the appointments caught his Havelock North FC and Robertson's Napier City Rovers club on the hop but some good people have already got involved in their journey so the pair were doing whatever they had to behind the scenes to project the professionalism required to attain the goals.

"It's exciting times but it's not lost on us that it's a massive job both on and off the field."

Robertson is player coach of the defending champions Blues in Central League while Greatholder assumes a similar mantle with the Building King Havelock North Wanderers topping the table in the second-tier winter Federation League.


The Wanderers host Palmerston North Boys' High First XI at Guthrie Park in a 2.45pm kick off today while the Rovers welcome Waterside Karori for a 2pm start at Park Island tomorrow.

"We've spoken straight away about what we can do and what we can't do in the togetherness as coaches and the problems we face on how we can make things work so we haven't taken the decision lightly," Greatholder says, revealing they had consulted professionals in the past six weeks to seek opinion and clarity.

Robertson says they plan to adopt an attacking brand of the beautiful game but that'll be something they'll nut out although they've had similar philosophies when he captained Bay United and Greatholder was at the helm as mentor.

"We want to produce a product ... that Hawke's Bay people can be proud of and identify with so they'll want to come to support."

However, the pair are ambitious and also want to triumph, something they have done religiously in their playing and coaching careers.

The intention is to predominantly secure homegrown talent so their knowledge of the football landscape will be imperative although the limited budget will come into play.

"We believe there's a good core group of people here — young and experienced who can help form a national league club — who can be successful."

Robertson says the level of accomplishment will become evident as the season transpires.

Staff recruitment is essential so their combined technical nous will come to the fore to seek out professionals who will add value to their culture.

"That's from the top level to all the way to staff standards ... in trying to create the culture we want."

It's a happy camp of board deputy chairman Andrew Huxford (left), co-coaches Bill Robertson and Chris Greatholder, and board chairwoman Paula Walker. Photo/Warren Buckland
It's a happy camp of board deputy chairman Andrew Huxford (left), co-coaches Bill Robertson and Chris Greatholder, and board chairwoman Paula Walker. Photo/Warren Buckland

The instant reaction to their appointment was resounding, if feedback from players is anything to go by in the past few days.

It excites the pair that the premiership is undergoing a renaissance of sorts with Auckland City FC coach Ramon Tribulietx and Team Wellington counterpart Jose Figuera have resigned.

"Obviously we can only focus on what we can do but there's perhaps a bit of uncertainty among franchises so players will be looking to say there's changes," says Robertson, emphasising their preoccupation is with the Bay franchise and the direction it's moving in the quest to become a potent club.

The pair also have discussed the possibilities of Robertson taking the field as centreback which means there will always be a coach guaranteed on the sideline on match days.

"I think Bill will add lots of value to players around him so we'll see what transpires because we'll register him as a player as well," says Greatholder.

Board deputy chairman Andrew Huxford says the franchise is proud to have acquired the pair's services.

"We've been through a lot in the last 12 months as an entity," says Huxford, echoing the sentiments of the pair in urging fans to support the team. The board is expecting to hear from NZ Football on their licence next week after ticking most of the boxes.