If the Auckland City football coach with the surname to flummox a spelling bee champ, Ramon Tribulietx, has already or will, throw his hat into the ring for Wellington Phoenix Head Coach, those in charge at Cake Tin HQ should be committed to an institution if they don’t at least have him in their final few contenders. In fact the Phoenix board should be counting their lucky stars that the All Whites chose Anthony Hudson over the KIwitea Street maestro. And before anyone forgets, it was the most successful club in Australian A-League history, Brisbane Roar who actively courted Tribulietx for their Head Coach role before finally settling on John Aloisi.
Tribulietx performed a Leicester City-type miracle in guiding Auckland to third place in the World Club Championship in 2014. That didn’t happen by accident or because of a lucky draw to get that far. In their second knockout match they beat Cruz Azul, multiple champions of Mexico, fully professional and with a resume including a 2001 runner-up finish after a special invite to the Copa Libertadores (The South American champions league) and winner of multiple CONACACAF club championships over the last 20 years. Yet they were beaten, quite comfortably in the end by Auckland and their keep ball tactics masterminded by Tribulietx; a product of the FC Barcelona coaching academy. Tribulietx’s success with Auckland at national level is akin to a dynasty- six times national champions and Oceania Champions League winners a prolific eight times.
Some have opined that the Nix need an overseas coach with an extensive CV to suddenly make them contenders. That scenario is no magical panacea though- the Phoenix are hardly an attractive proposition, not to mention not greatly solvent. So really, who says they could lure anyone that good in any case? The point too is that no coach in the world, unless perhaps their name were Brian Clough, can quickly transform a team from abject to excellent.
As Andrew Durante said, Ernie Merrick’s resignation should sit squarely on the shoulders of the players. Dura would know, wouldn’t he? He’s in that dressing room all the time and is one of the club’s best-ever players. Are there a couple of rotten apples poisoning the atmosphere among the playing group? If there were, a whiff of that would perhaps have come out by now. Ernie Merrick was all a bit cryptic at his resignation press conference; guess we will find out properly one day in the tell-all book, if there is to be one.
Dire is certainly not an unfair label to apply to the Nix at the moment. How else can one countenance their rank ineptitude and lack of will against Adelaide? A case in point: At only the eight-minute mark of the first half they were awarded a free kick a little wide of, but handy to the penalty area. As the ball was clipped into the box I counted FOUR Phoenix players offside about two steps in front of all the Adelaide defenders who remained completely stationary as the ball came in (and didn’t move forward at all, as the TV commentator intimated). Brainless might be another word that comes to mind. But they shouldn’t be playing brainlessly, that’s what is so damn grating. We keep on hearing too of the quality, but where is the mental application? Already on its Christmas holiday it would seem.
And ironically, one of the few who still looks prepared to give his all for the cause, is never really ever going to be the man to take them to the top. I am talking about Roy Krishna. He has speed to burn, but is no target man or kingpin and his default setting is to drift wide or take possession of the ball a long way outside the penalty area- the antithesis of a natural-born striker/ goal poacher, which is exactly one thing the Phoenix need. How they must miss Nathan Burns. Does Besart Berisha like wind and occasional earthquakes?
God save the Phoenix. Could that god be a man named Tribulietx?
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