The latest on the Phoenix

Gareth MorganWellington Phoenix


wellington-phoenixToday I have been in Stuff and the NZ Herald regarding an interview that was pre recorded a week ago with Tony Veitch. Here are some points that need to be mentioned:

  • I remind everyone that this Club loses money every year and on that basis we are looking at a range of ways to change that. Our success on the field is an important, but not the only element of that bottom line measure.As the only team in the league apart from newcomers Melbourne Heart and Wests not to have reached a Grand Final, we did a review and made a decision whether the style we’re perfected over the years would be good enough to ever get us beyond the playoffs. The consensus was unlikely so we decided to adopt a medium term objective to play possession-based football. It will take 2-3 years let’s say but we wish the playing style to be defined as the Phoenix’s playing style.
  • Working out how to get there is the challenge for coaching staff, player recruitment policy, incumbent players – not so much the Board.
  • Over recent games there have been apparently some tweaks to playing style as Ricki has publicly mentioned – precisely what, is his domain not mine but he has talked of them. But as an observation, just as any fan observing the game could make – it was noticeable in the first halves of both the game against Victory and Wests that The Phoenix played pretty well, and there were instances of the possession-based game. The second halves of both games were failures from our perspective and so obviously that would be a concern to coaches and a focus. Then the Sydney game of last week was a failure all the way – again obviously the challenge for the football staff and team to address.
  • I observe that some, not all, fans are blaming the team position on the league table as being a result of a wholesale change in style – at least they have been since the medium term strategy of changing style became publicly known. That charge is pretty irrelevant as the style thing is a medium term objective not a goal to be achieved overnight. Besides the performances in the first halves of the games against Victory and Wests gives lie to that suggestion. Despite this being pointed out, some vocal fans on the message boards have continued with the charge – despite there being no ground for that. Yes I would call that intransigence, pathetic – based on emotion not evidence.
  • There was the instance of the “Morgan Invasion of the Training Pitch”. This was pure invention by a gossip columnist working for the Dom Post, posing as a sports journalist. Gossip columnists as you know, invent their own stories when deadlines loom and they’ve been unable to extract anything genuine. I have been to a number of training sessions as have other owners so none of that element of the story from Mr Worthless was genuine. Secondly on the day the Press were also at a session I was at, Ricki had divided the pitch in two and had the starting team training on one side, the rest training under Greenie on the other. So I chose to stand between the two sessions so I could observe both. I wouldn’t have thought that was worthy of scandal but apparently it was. So Worthless wrote a story with a great beat up “Who’s the Boss” charging that I’d invaded the pitch – he didn’t talk to me before he had to come up with something for his deadline. It was 100% crap. The DomPost owe me an apology but I doubt it’s capable of admitting one of its staff is a fiction writer.
  • Of course the public reads this fiction and the gullible believe that because it’s in a newspaper it’s truth – that apparently I’m now telling Ricki what to do! Priceless fiction but the gullible get sucked in and before you know it the belief spreads and I even see sports journalists believing it as time blurs their memory. People really can be silly at times for sure.
  • For your information I have been working on how to enhance our performance analysis capability of late and that involves video analyses of matches and training sessions – my attendance at training that week was mainly on how we would achieve that, how many cameras etc, which sessions we would film, which we don’t bother with etc. I have explained this but nobody is interested in ruining a good piece of Worthless fiction.
  • When Tony Veitch asked me last week about all this I said and I repeat that those who continue to believe the Worthless line that I’m somehow running the training etc are being silly. I said to him that the truth is totally the opposite and those that continue with the charge – whether fans or journos for that matter, despite no evidence whatsoever – are pathetic. They are.
  • We have a medium term strategy set by the Board and we have a coaching and technical department and senior players who are responsible for the week to week strategy and performances – the two are quite separable over the short term. To suggest they’re not is far-fetched and has no basis in fact.
  • Those that believe owners should write the cheques and stay upstairs while everyone else gets on and loses money year after year, clearly don’t know where money comes from. We have to get the club on a solid financial footing, that does involve on-field activity too and I make no apology for dispelling the myth that club ownership is somehow symbolic only and the owners have no say in determining strategy. Proper fans need to appreciate what we need to do to ensure The Phoenix is here for the long term. Unless of course someone wants to step up and fund the $1m per year annual losses that currently prevail. All constructive suggestions for financial progress are welcome but just on that I suggest you read the book Moneyball because that pretty much describes our strategy – we are investing in Academies and developing our intake of young players. That will enable us to buy some top players in key position in time and provides a basis for this Club that is based in a very small town compared to most in the League, to more effectively compete.
  • Finally, to all the dedicated Phoenix fans who understand the big picture, who turn up in the rain, buy the tickets, cheer in the fan zone, I thank you. Your positive support and appreciation of the mission we have been set is appreciated by the owners, managers and players. The transformation we are undertaking is exciting and it is fun to rise to the challenge. I do however suggest you critically appraise the trash from the gossip columnists in the DomPost’s sports department – they are increasingly getting their information 3rd hand or making it up.


Please feel free to comment. I may be slow to reply as I am in transit.


The latest on the Phoenix was last modified: December 15th, 2015 by Gareth Morgan
About the Author

Gareth Morgan

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Gareth Morgan is a New Zealand economist and commentator on public policy who in previous lives has been in business as an economic consultant, funds manager, and professional company director. He is also a motorcycle adventurer and philanthropist. Gareth and his wife Joanne have a charitable foundation, the Morgan Foundation, which has three main stands of philanthropic endeavour – public interest research, conservation and social investment.