New Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has paid tribute to the club’s former manager Ricki Herbert, who stepped down at the end of last season. Herbert had been in charge of the club since 2007 and he oversaw a tremendous spell at the club.

After winning two championship titles with Melbourne Victory, Merrick has come to Wellington Phoenix with the hope of changing the club’s style of football and also making them successful once again. Herbert adopted a defensive strategy at the club, but Merrick has been on about attack from the word go.

Herbert managed to become one of the most lauded managers within the game in New Zealand after his achievements with Phoenix and the national team. He helped Phoenix stabilise as a club, while he also took New Zealand to the World Cup 2010, where they remained as the only team to come out and defeated. However, since then, things have not been going good for Herbert. He saw his team Phoenix fail to win the Championship last season, while New Zealand also failed to qualify for the World Cup 2014 after losing in the play-offs to Mexico.

Merrick, though, has said that Herbert will forever be regarded as one of the greatest managers from New Zealand.
“Ricki Herbert’s copping a bit of stick. He shouldn’t be getting that. Ricki Herbert did a great job. He was regularly in the finals, he went through a difficult phase with financial problems at the club. I just feel it’s like I’m the good guy and he’s the bad guy and it shouldn’t be like that. You’ve got to respect him. He’s coached more games in the A-League than anyone else. Ricki left me with a rock solid leadership group and I’m building on what he set up,” said Merrick.