Former Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert says the club deserves to be leading the men’s A-League, and the side’s strong form appears to be built on confidence and consistency.
Speaking to NewstalkZB sports host Jason Pine, Herbert said: “I’m looking on from a distance but for me, it just seems like players have been given the confidence through the coaching staff to go and deliver on a regular basis.”
Main photo: Ricki Herbert … ‘they are where they deserve to be.’
Giving responsibility to the players was paying off, despite the odd ‘blip’, he said.
An example was Friday’s fighting draw against nearest rivals Melbourne Victory, when the Phoenix played half the game with 10 men.
“Right through the group, they were strong, positive and confident,” Herbert said of the Phoenix performance.
Another example was the form of forward Kosta Barbarouses who has scored eight goals in 13 games.
Herbert signed Barbarouses to the Phoenix when he was 17 and, watching from a distance, it appeared Barbarouses was benefitting from playing regularly and having the backing of his coach.
“He (the coach) has said ‘Kosta, you’re a regular player, you’re going to lead the line. There are options for you to play a little deeper or wider, or more centrally, behind people but at the end of the day we need you to score goals.’
“And he’s returned that in buckets for them.”
Herbert was the inaugural coach of the Phoenix from 2007 till 2013, combining the role with that of New Zealand’s men’s national team head coach.
Listen to Ricki Herbert interview
Listen to the full 13-minute interview here:
Game played on Friday January 19, 2024
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Alex Rufer 90+5′ pen)
Melbourne Victory 1 (Connor Chapman 79′)