Durante, Emblen and Moss victims of Hudson’s purg
New Zealand Football wanted change, and they got it.
In one fell swoop yesterday, All Whites coach Anthony Hudson unleashed the football equivalent of an earthquake.
He dropped Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante, axed assistant coach Neil Emblen, and even called up a couple of players he's never seen - Dan Keat and Jacob Gleeson.
But perhaps his most surprising decision was dropping goalkeeper Glen Moss for the forthcoming November friendlies against China and Thailand.
Moss is easily New Zealand's best goalkeeper, a former captain, their oldest leader - and is also on board with the decision.
"The goalkeeping spot is one of Anthony's concerns," Moss said. "At the moment I'm the only experienced goalkeeper we have who is playing regularly and he [Hudson] said they need to find a No2 and No3 goalkeeper building toward Russia.
"We're not going to know who is up to it unless they get game time and if I went, they obviously wouldn't get it. I'm totally on board and support it."
Hudson also delivered a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation to media, outlining the All Whites' shortcomings and his plans to fix them.
He questioned the mentality of players in their recent camp in Doha. The group was too comfortable. There was no competition for places.
Problems with team culture are normally sorted out by a leadership group, and Moss would be in the heart of it.
But Hudson feels eight days without him is a fair price to pay to blood young stoppers Oliver Sail and Gleeson.
"A few of the boys at training asked me if I'd done a Tommy Smith and spat the dummy," Moss joked. "I told them I haven't done a Tommy just yet and I have actually been pushing for young Oliver to get in there.
"I spoke to Dura [Andrew Durante] at training this morning and I think he's in the same boat. Anthony has seen him, knows what he can do, knows he is the captain at the Phoenix but again, wants to look at more depth."
Hudson also noted that the All Whites had not won in their last seven games, and had only one win outside of the island nations in 2 years. The answer: more contact time together with better structure and discipline.
After the All Whites' trip to Asia next month, they are aiming for a home match in the March window against Asian opposition, an Auckland-based camp in June, an Oceania friendly in August and then the Olympic qualifiers in October, which will involve a majority of the young New Zealand squad.
The Uzbekistan trip may have been a good one to miss. Five players who went on the tour have been dropped, or retired, while those who never went such as Ryan Thomas, Marco Rojas and now Tommy Smith are firmly on the inner by default.
Hudson travelled to Wellington yesterday to deliver the news to Durante and Moss in person, before having what he described as "the most difficult chat I've had in 12 years of football" with Emblen.
Hudson has opted for his former Bahrain assistant coach Alex Armstrong as his No2, describing him as someone who complements him well.