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The Hudson Legacy

All Whites Fans

All Whites! (Clap clap clap)

When Anthony Hudson departed as the All Whites head coach last year, headed for Colorado and the MLS, much was made over the improvements he had introduced as the senior man in NZ Football. Video analysts, sports scientists and enhanced medical staff were three of the things cited as Hudson successes, as well as the growing sense of professionalism he brought to the squad.

The subsequent appointments of Darren Bazeley as an Assistant Coach and analyst Jase Kim to the MLS coach’s staff weren’t entirely surprising, with Hudson quoted as saying of Bazeley;

“He knows what I want, there’s going to be no transition time as to what’s expected on the training pitch, and he’s got good experience. He’s got experience with me, and he has six or seven international tournaments under his belt. He’s a really, really valuable part of the staff and he’s looking forward to meeting the other guys as well.”

And of Kim;

“We’ve had three years invested into him. He knows exactly what I want, how my meetings are run, how we film the training sessions, how we give feedback on the games and on the style of play. He knows all the nuances, what we’re looking for in terms of roles and responsibilities. To come here without him would be really difficult, and it would take a long time to train someone in line with that.”

Interesting comments, particularly about the ‘three years invested into him’. Because that was NZF’s investment, using the remainder of the money from the 2010 World Cup. The same with Bazeley, who had been within the NZF setup since 2009.

Emblen and Bazeley

Junior All White coaching staff Neil Emblen and Darren Bazeley during the National Anthem

With the news that Neil Emblen may also be headed stateside in the press today, it might be time to worry that Anthony Hudson isn’t so much leaving a legacy for New Zealand football as taking it with him.

Before the Intercontinental Playoff, Andy Martin noted that failure to qualify would mean a reduced All Whites schedule and cost-cutting within the association. At that point though, at least NZF had experienced coaching staff at U17 & U20 level, and others who had spent over a decade in New Zealand, gaining experience in coaching in the country.

Then Bazeley followed Hudson to Colorado. No worries, Danny Hay’s been working with the U17’s, he can step up. Except Hay stepped down to focus on his first Senior Mens role, with his assistant Chris Zoricich going with him to Eastern Suburbs.

Suddenly the responsibility Hudson was enthused to be given to create a ‘pathway‘ between U17, U20 and the Senior All Whites doesn’t seem that great, what with there being no coaches at any of those levels now. The sacking of Paul Temple and Jose Figueira to this pathway creation also seems wasteful, given their respective successes at the Phoenix academy and Team Wellington since then.

Before Hudson arrived NZF had money to spend and was part of the way through developing a group of coaches with potential to progress through the age-grades towards the top job.

With his departure, NZF finds itself needing to make budget cuts while also requiring coaches in the three key positions for player development for the national team.

We’ve already seen Tony Readings’ vacated position as Football Ferns coach be bolted on to new Technical Director Andreas Heraf’s job, rather than identifying someone who can focus fully on that role.

He was dynamic, enthusiastic and driven towards his goals, fighting for the changes he wanted. But looking at what’s happening right now, the question is whose goals were they; New Zealand Football or Anthony Hudson?

There was a lot said, following his resignation, about what Hudson had brought to New Zealand football during his tenure as head coach. I suspect there’ll be more said, later on, about what he took with him when he left.



Categories: Other Football Topics

John Palethorpe

8 replies

  1. Good yarn, John.

    The jury may still be out on whether Hudson was good for New Zealand football – but there is no question that NZ football was very good for him, coming in as an inexperienced coach to play with perhaps the biggest budget the national body has ever afforded the role .

    I’m just hanging out to see if he now finds a London-based role for Peter Taylor at Colorado.

  2. I would like to question whether there has been a sound and successful pathway for young players recently – except on paper. Compare the composition of the winning England U17 and U-20 teams with that of NZ. What you will notice is that England’s (successful) squad is extremely balanced listing players equally from across all 12 months!! That suggests they have managed to find the actually best players from EACH cohort.

    My observation has been that the FTC/NTC/U17/20 … talent development system is deeply flawed in that players are being selected at age 12 to 14 after which the whole thing becomes a closed shop (although NZF pretends otherwise)!

    After that it is selection by REPUTATION (i.e. having been previously selected as a child) instead of selection by a player’s ongoing development and current performance levels. In short – if you are born after about September and/or if you are only coming into your own at age 15/16/17 – FORGET about being even looked at at “trials” (which absolutely do NOT deserve this name at least for one particular position) even less being “discovered”.

    (I have done a lot [!] of research on this, btw, but don’t think many people are willing to even contemplate such problems! So I keep sitting on my findings except for this one reply) This is an issue in other countries as well but if Germany does that, for example, they simply have the sheer base rate of talent so that they can afford to be lazy and somewhat arrogant about it. (Or can even they?)

    The question is – can we? The bleak balance sheet of our efforts in various (youth World Cups) over the past 10 to 15 years speaks clearly to that question!

    Of course it is much easier to believe in your own propaganda and change nothing. If the official NZF press releases are to be believed we have “gone from strength to strength” with U17/20 and All Whites producing one “heroic and history making effort” after another”. Yet somehow they always end in “unlucky” defeats and the occasional draw!? (on the truly international stage)

    For years we have been told that “the future is bright” – what if tomorrow never comes!?

    Interesting and well written article, by the way!

  3. Great comment Dietar. Absolutely on the money. Why can no one else see this? Or does self-interest prevent that?

  4. He brought video analysis, sports science, and medial staff to NZ football. This is the basics of any team from provincial upwards. Whether he was good or bad as least he brought us up to what should have been there years ago. With cost cuts I wonder what will be first to go.

  5. Hi Hamish,

    We’ve had national team sports science and medical appointments on deck for at least 15 years and I know Anthony would hate to get credit where it was not due . Lest we forget, back in 2003 the All Whites team doctor was Ian Murphy, John Haywood and Roland Jeffrey were physios, and John Lythe was sports scientist.

    Hope this helps.

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