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Ifill keen to retain coaching role

By Gary Caffell
Paul Ifill is a realist.
The former Wellington Phoenix star knows his job as coach of Wairarapa United’s Central League side could be in jeopardy after a disappointing 2016 season which will see them end up seventh in the 10-team competition.
That’s a far cry from the heroics of the previous year when in Ifill’s debut season in the coaching role they claimed the runners-up spot and Ifill understands the frustrations which go with such a sudden change in fortunes.
“Everybody expected us to do better, I know I certainly did,” he said yesterday. “Whichever way you look at it the end result was not what we wanted, not by a long way.”
Typically, Ifill was not prepared to heap too much blame on others for Wairarapa United’s poor season. Yes, there were issues with some of the more senior members of the squad not living up to expectations and, yes, the blooding of several youngsters was always likely to cause some hassles in such a cut-throat competition, but, as coach, it was a fact of life that most of the blame would be aimed at him.
“I don’t want to get into excuses, what we need to do now is look ahead, and if I’m not part of that process then so be it.”
Having said that, however, Paul Ifill makes no bones about his enthusiasm to keep the Wairarapa United coaching job for at least another year.
“I’d really like a third season but that’s not my decision to make. I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
Ifill is convinced that whoever gets the coaching job will gain hugely from the progress made this season by a good number of youngsters who have come through his academy based at Memorial Park in Masterton.
A quick count showed that 19 players under the age of 17 had played for Wairarapa United at either Central League or Capital third division level this season and Ifill is sure the experience gained will see them making an even bigger impact next year.
“The academy is flying. I think a lot of people would be really surprised at the depth of talent we have here,” he said.
Ifill also has a successful academy in Nelson and will be playing for Tasman in this year’s national league. That’s a scenario which has had some people questioning whether his intentions are to move to that part of the country in the not-too-distant future. Ifill is quick to refute that suggestion, saying he and his family were enjoying life in Wairarapa and there were no plans to go elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the Wairarapa United Central League side completed their 2016 programme with a 2-7 defeat by Miramar Rangers at Memorial Park on Tuesday night. Captaining the side was Aaron Spierling who became only the second player to make 200 or more appearances for Wairarapa United in the league, following in the footsteps of Carl Shailer who is now over the 230 mark.
Miramar Rangers, who are into the semifinals of the Chatham Cup and are just one point off the lead in the Central League, were always going to be a handful for a depleted Wairarapa United squad who had 15-year-old Scott Morris making his CL debut in goal, and they were quick to capitalise on defensive lapses.
“Considering it was Scott’s first game I thought he coped pretty well but he wasn’t given enough protection, the defence just wasn’t solid enough,” Ifill said.
Wairarapa United president – and former CL coach – Phil Keinzley made a presentation to Spierling before the match and in an interview later was full of praise for the service he had given the club over a good number of years.
“Aaron is a terrific team player, he goes out there and gives you everything he has got,” wKeinzley said. “Every club needs players like him, he has been outstanding for us.”

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