Wellington Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata and coach Ricki Herbert will return home to Wellington on a high after an extremely promising recruiting mission in the United Kingdom.
IT-S not a case of mission accomplished quite yet but I-m happy to report that Ricki Herbert and I are confident of securing the signatures of the strikers we had targeted prior to departing for the United Kingdom.
Our time here has flown by and we-re both extremely pleased with how the recruitment drive has gone – further confirmation that the decision to travel to the United Kingdom will pay dividends in terms of ensuring we get the right players for the club.
Once back in Wellington we will formalise offers to the players we have already had extensive discussions with, with a view to having them sign the relevant paperwork and be available here in June ready for pre-season training.
As well as focusing on recruitment, Ricki and I have also had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at some Premier League clubs. All the organisations we have visited have been excellent and the hospitality shown to us fantastic. It is a credit to the people involved at these clubs that they are willing to share their passion, expertise and knowledge.
We spent a morning with Steve Bruce at Wigan. Steve allowed us to attend the pre-game meeting and team meeting ahead as his side geared up for a match against Sunderland. The team line-up and tactics were discussed and it was very interesting to see how Steve and his team went through that process.
We then watched the team train and saw how they prepared for the big match. What was especially pleasing for us was to see the processes we go through in the lead-up to a match are very similar to those employed at Premier League clubs. From team discussions through to in-depth analysis, our preparations are on par with top-flight clubs, which is a credit to the members of the Phoenix-s football department.
Incidentally, Wigan won the match against Sunderland 2-1.
But perhaps the most glaring difference between the Hyundai A-League and the Premier League is the level of player remuneration. Most of these guys are being paid NZ$60,000-$150,000 a week, with the top players getting more than $200,000 a week. Not bad money, if you can get it!
The amount of money involved in the game over here – even taking into account the fact that the Premier League is the top league in what is the biggest game in the world, bar none – is staggering and I-m more than a little relieved that we have a salary cap in the Hyundai A-League to level the playing field somewhat.
So we prepare to head home now in high spirits after what has been an eventful, promising and very worthwhile trip.
I trust you have enjoyed these updates – even if I have had to play my cards close to my chest! – and I-m hopeful of announcing our new signings shortly.
Yours in football,