News broke around midday yesterday on the Northern League Forum that Waikato FC has parted company with their coach of two years, the controversial Declan Edge. Edge stepped into the role at the beginning of last season when, as usual, things were looking bleak for the franchise. Waikato stalwart Dave Edmonson had departed for pastures greener and Edge was essentially the only qualified person prepared to take the reins.
He brought with him a pretty rigid set of ideas. Chief amongst them was that possession based football was king and that player development was more important than results. These have been widely criticised since day one along with Declan’s infamous ego, his animated pitch-side… enthusiasm (some call it ranting) and his refusal to compromise his strongly held beliefs about his role and how the game should be played.
I have a great deal of respect for Declan and what he was trying to achieve.
I agree with his philosophy that if you have possession of the ball most of the time and press hard for it when you don’t have it, you can make yourself pretty hard to score against. Unfortunately he couldn’t quite pull it off with the players he had.
I also agree that results shouldn’t be the be all and end all for a franchise like Waikato, and that the primary goal should be player development. But the fact of life is results do matter when you are bottom of the league and hardly anyone is paying to watch you play.
A source inside the camp has told me that some of the players have gotten so used to losing that they find it funny and that this is not sitting very well with the new players. It can’t have been sitting too well with the board either, and it’s telling that the chairman cited “poor performance clauses in his contract” as the reason for dismissal.
I have to say I came awfully close to picking it. I noted in my last blog post that the body language of Declan and the team after the loss to Canterbury United looked pretty bad. Now we know why.
The new man to take Waikato football’s flagship onwards and hopefully upwards is former Waikato United striker and current Hamilton Wanderers coach Mark Cossey. It’s obviously too early to know for certain what sort of changes he’ll make but the early indications are they won’t be wholesale. He doesn’t have the scope within the rules or the finances necessary to bring in many new players and in terms of game plan all he’s saying is he wants them to be “more direct”. As opposed to Declan’s focus on possession before all else, it seems Cossey would just like to try and get a couple or few of those things… those whatchamacallem… goals.
I loved watching Cossey as a player, he certainly knew how to find the back of the net and he did so with great regularity along with fellow fringe All White Darren Fellowes in the golden age of Muir Park when United regularly challenged for the National League crown. As such, he already has a fond place in Waikato football folklore.
Following the change, the mood of the camp is according to my source surprisingly good. They should have no trouble picking themselves up to begin putting the new coach’s tactics in action and that’s a relief. Cossey’s first game in charge, vs Youngheart Manawatu, is a curtain raiser to the Phoenix and will be live on national television this weekend – no pressure or anything.
To Declan, thanks for all your hard work and passion, mate. Good luck on your next football adventure.
Categories: NZ Men's National League
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.