Wellington Phoenix have appointed former Melbourne Victory boss Ernie Merrick as their new head coach.
Merrick was appointed following a 'worldwide search' by the club for a suitable successor to Ricki Herbert, who resigned in February.
The club were rumoured to be close to appointing Enlighsman Steve Coppell to the top job, but Merrick's history of success in the Hyundai A-League convinced the Phoenix heirarchy the for Victory coach was the right man for the job.
Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison said the club were 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 the Phoenix.
“He also fully understands the long term strategy the club is implementing and is supportive of that approach.
“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."
Merrick, who has resigned from his post as coach of the Hong Kong national side, said he was glad to back on the A-League and looking forward to working with the potential on offer in New Zealand.
“My coaching philosophy has always been about winning. That’s what I will be bringing to the 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 the Phoenix will be to provide input into the type of structure that will groom up and coming players for the first team.
“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."