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.
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.
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John Palethorpe lives in South Auckland which is very far away from Fratton Park and Champion Hill. Having been told there was no football in New Zealand, he was delighted to find that there is.