WELLINGTON Phoenix hope newly appointed coach Ernie Merrick's track record as the A-League’s most successful boss ever will finally bring a trophy to the New Zealand club.
Merrick’s proven track record of two Premierships, two Championships and three grand final appearances gave him the edge over some very talented coaches, said the club today.
Phoenix Chairman Rob Morrison said the club was delighted to secure Merrick’s services and that he brings with him an impressive track record.
“Ernie has an unrivalled record in the A-League, including two Championships and another finals appearance, as well as being Hyundai A-League Coach of the Year twice with Melbourne Victory,” Morrison said.
“His 12 years at the Victoria Institute of Sport, as well as his work with Melbourne Victory youth, demonstrates a proven track record in developing youth and bringing them through to the first team, something which is a core strategic pillar of Phoenix.
“He also fully understands the long term strategy the club is implementing and is supportive of that approach.”
Phoenix said they went through an exhaustive and thorough selection process. Candidates were required to articulate their football philosophy along with presenting the strategies and tactics they would employ if appointed head coach.
Morrison said Merrick’s presentation highlighted what an outstanding coach he is.
“Ernie’s presentation showed that he has all the skills to lead Phoenix to the top of the A-League,” Morrison said.
“His clearly articulated football philosophy and attention to detail was strongly underpinned by his sports science skills and that gave him a unique combination of attributes. His skill set definitely gave him a distinct edge.
“Another plus was that his knowledge of the A-League and its players is exceptional.”
Merrick says that he is excited by the new challenge ahead and looks forward to building Phoenix into a true A-League title contender.
“My coaching philosophy has always been about winning. That’s what I will be bringing to Phoenix,” Merrick, who has signed a two-year contract with an option for a third year, said.
“I’m also happy to be back in the A-League.
“I had six years at Victory but this is a new challenge entirely. It is unusual for one team to represent a country and it presents me with a great challenge.
“There is great potential at the club and there must be a lot of talented young players in New Zealand to draw on.
“I focused on producing young players at the Victoria Institute of Sport and at Melbourne Victory, and one of my most important roles at Phoenix will be to provide input into the type of structure that will groom up and coming players for the first team.”
Merrick said his first priority would be to sign players for two or three crucial positions and then to make sure there was a production line of young players coming through.
“That is something I tried to ensure at Victory because you are always going to have injuries and players called up for international duty.
“To make three grand finals in four seasons as we did at Victory we had to keep new players coming through.”
If Merrick impressed the club during the selection process, the feeling was mutual.
“The owners and board are determined to bring stability to the Phoenix, and they impressed me as people who want to set up structures and a playing style rather than just try and buy success season after season,” Merrick said.
One of the players Merrick will inherit is his former Victory star Carlos Hernandez who will join up with Phoenix next month after a stint in India.
“Carlos was obviously signed before I was appointed but I know him well,” he said. “He has tremendous technical skills and can score goals as well as assist others to score them.”
Merrick will take up his duties on June 5 and said he was already planning his first season’s full programme.