Singling out New Zealand Football as an incompetent organisation seems to be everybody’s favourite sport at the moment but, in the finest traditions of contrary bastards everywhere, I’m not playing. The comedy of errors presided over by our national governing body recently may not exactly be helping their cause but I’m still determined to play the devil’s advocate and stick up for them just a little bit on this occasion.
Why? Because calling other people useless is the easiest thing in the world to do. Instead we should all embrace the principle of let he/she/they who has never made a few mistakes in their job cast the first stone. And also, a complete cleanout at the top right now might not be the greatest thing in the world – be careful what you wish for, it’s better the devil you know, and all that sort of thing…
For the purposes of context, for anyone who has been living in the Gamma Quadrant lately, here’s a quick potted chronology of recent ‘issues’ as I recall them:
- Phoenix part-owner Gareth Morgan highly critical of New Zealand Football, says it’s being run like a local tennis club.
- The Oly Whites disqualified from Olympic Games qualification due to fielding an ineligible player – Deklan Wynne.
- Phoenix Chairman Rob Morrison accuses NZF of not doing enough to support the Phoenix’s license renewal, relationship between NZF and Phoenix described as “somewhat strained”.
- Anthony Hudson critical of New Zealand ‘soft’ culture and the All Whites’ lack of international opponents.
- All Whites unable to secure a suitable March friendly in preparation for the Oceania Nations Cup.
- Alex Jones flies back home to Birmingham City after his transfer to the Phoenix couldn’t be finalised due to NZF not completing the online process in time and he ran out of Wellington restaurants to dine alone at.
- Phoenix Captain Andrew Durante calls for a cleanout.
Is it just me or is there a disproportionately Phoenix flavour to that list?
First off I take Durante’s point, because it would be indefensible not to, about the fact that there have been a lot of stuff ups and these are people’s careers and livelihoods at stake here. But a football club not being able to sign a player, who still has a good job at his previous club, is not really up there with a surgeon amputating the wrong leg in the grand scheme of things. Yes, it’s bad, but nobody died.
People are human and they make the best decisions they can as situations present themselves. If Deklan Wynne had missed a penalty instead of been declared ineligible, and that was what stopped us from going to the Olympics, most people would have had sympathy for him rather than calling for him to never be selected again. What’s the difference, really, between off the field stuff-ups and on the field ones?
I also agree with Kevin Fallon on the Alex Jones debacle. If a transfer is that crucial, you need to chase it up. It’s like anything in life that’s more important to you than it is to those who you need to act to make it happen – you often have to be a pushy bugger to get things done.
I know they are frustrated, but Phoenix management and/or ownership and/or players should refrain from publicly dissing New Zealand Football. Behind the scenes they might feel as though they are not being supported very well but they should keep that to themselves for their own good and the good of the game. It takes two to tango as they say, and both sides need each other. What Phoenix officials say sets off all New Zealand fans and that can’t be helpful to the relationship or the level of support they receive. If complaining to the media doesn’t help you in any way then why do it?
As for calls for cleanouts, just stop for a minute and ask yourself if you really want more upheaval in the game. A complete cleanout at NZF could and probably would result in more reviews and another completely different vision for things such as the National League. That’s the history of what happens every time there is a new regime – they all want to make their mark and whatever their grand vision is will be seen as the only way forward. Seems to me like the absolute last thing we need right now.
And who is the perfect candidate that’s waiting in the wings to step in and get paid peanuts by Chief Executive standards to cop public flak left, right and centre complete with parody Twitter accounts (good ones I might add)? Given that we’ve had so many examples of bad management at NZF over the years, maybe it’s time to stop doing the same things (cleanouts) over and over again and expecting different results? Maybe the underlying problems are more structural?
And maybe those of us in the cheap seats aren’t perfect either and we could all be doing a better job for the improvement of the game we love?
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.