Ifill Sticks With Wellington Phoenix

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert and the club’s new owners were given a vote of confidence today when Paul Ifill rebuffed offers from other A-League clubs and signed a new two-year deal.

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert and the club-s new owners were given a vote of confidence today when Paul Ifill rebuffed offers from other A-League clubs and signed a new two-year deal.

In explaining his decision to stay put Ifill spoke highly of Herbert and said he was confident the club would move forward under the Welnix ownership banner.

“I want to thank Ricki and Welnix for showing faith in me and hope I can repay them in the next two and a half years,” Ifill said.

“I spoke to Ricki and Rob (Morrison, chairman) at length and know where the club is heading.

“It is nice to get offers from other clubs because it means you are doing something right, but after weighing everything up I really wanted to stay.

“I-ve probably made wrong moves in the past and this (the Phoenix) is the most I-ve enjoyed my football.

“Why give that away because things might not be as good across the pond.

“I-m happy among the boys and staff at the Phoenix. I don-t want to look back and say ‘they were a great set of lads but I won nothing with them-. I want to win the league with them.” With a number of players coming off contract this season, Ifill hopes his decision may sway others into staying.

“Obviously people make their own decisions but if I can influence one or two then great.

“”With the way the club is now being run I-m confident we can win things.”

Ifill made it plain that Herbert being given a new contract had played a big part in helping him make up his mind.

“I-ve been lucky enough to work with some good managers during my career and Ricki is up there with the best,” Ifill said.

“I know from personal experience that he gets to know what makes a player tick and I think he has done brilliantly this season.

“It has been tough, especially on Ricki. We had a terrible off-season and then ran into a run of injuries.

“He signed a good player in Lucas Pantelis and loses him for the season. Pavs (Mirjan Pavlovic) was looking sharp and then breaks his arm. Vinnie (Lia), Dani Sanchez and me have all missed games through injury.

“Despite all that he has had us playing well and we have been a bit unlucky.

“Knowing he will be coach for the next two years, and still with the club in some capacity for the following two was important to me.”

Ifill said he was also confident that the Phoenix would in the future be able to help New Zealand youngsters realise their potential.

“With what Welnix are planning the club will be able to provide a pathway for Kiwi kids,” he said.

“While they might not be ready for the A League, playing and training alongside professional players can only help them.

“You can-t sign young players just because they are Kiwis. You have to sign the best players.

“I-m all for development of the game in this country and that is what will happen with the way the club is now going.”

Herbert said he was delighted to have Ifill in his squad for the next two years.

“After a stellar first year it was disappointing to lose his services through injury last season and the early part of this one.

“Now he is back and vibrant and once again causing problems for defences.

“His presence on the park and in the dressing room is immense.”