The Baron Flys Again


Another piece of the jigsaw has been put into place at the Wellington Phoenix with the return of highly-rated sports scientist Ed Baranowski.

Baranowski, who spent 20 years working in the top levels of English football, was with the Phoenix in their second and third seasons in the Hyundai A-League.

Since then Phoenix head coach Ricki Herbert has kept in touch with the Canterbury-based Baranowski, seeking advice on training methods whenever necessary.

With the change of ownership bringing stability to the club, Herbert seized on the opportunity to return Baranowski to the Phoenix fold and the Englishman is delighted to again be involved.

“It is brilliant to be back working at a high level again, and to be working alongside Ricki,” Baranowski said.

“A lot of planning is needed going into a season and it is even more important this year with new staff involved on the coaching side.

“Preparation needs to be well refined with a lot more monitoring of players than there has been in the last couple of years.”

Baranowski is also currently working for Mainland Football in their Federation Talent Centre as Football Education Director, designing and driving a five-year physiological and conditioning programme for 12 to 18 year olds.

There are 16 FTC academies spread throughout the South Island catering for the youngsters- physiological needs along with coach education.

“It is based on the UK model where young players come in, get physiologically and technically assessed and put on a programme that is driven to their needs,” Baranowski said.

“If they are lucky enough to later go into a professional environment they are able to cope.

Baranowski began his tenure at the top of English football under Kenny Dalglish at Blackburn Rovers spending five years at that club, helping them to win the Premier League.

When Dalglish moved to Newcastle United he took Baranowski with him and the pair were in the North East for two years, during which Newcastle finished second in the Premiership and made the FA Cup final.

“Then Kenny got the sack. It isn-t good enough to finish second at Newcastle,” Baranowski says with a wry smile.

“They have fickle fans and a fickle board of directors.

“Kenny introduced me to George Graham and I spent four years with him and David O-Leary at Leeds United.”

Next port of call for the sports scientist was Manchester City where he helped Joe Royle win back-to-back promotions into the Premier League.

An offer that was too good to refuse from Sam Allardyce saw him join Bolton Wanderers and he was instrumental in setting up a sports science department for the club.

After 20 years in the footballing fast lane Baranowski “retired” with his family to the more easy-paced New Zealand but it wasn-t long before he had itchy feet and joined the fledgling Phoenix club.

“When you have done the things I-ve done and suddenly stop it can be hard,” he says.

“You miss the banter, the challenges and the day-to-day involvement.”

Now the Phoenix are about to reap the benefits of the experience he has picked up along the way.