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Ifill replaced as United head coach

By Gary Caffell

Wairarapa United have replaced Paul Ifill as head coach of their Central League football squad.

The former Wellington Phoenix star has been ousted after two seasons in the role which produced very different results.

The first of them saw him guide Wairarapa United to an equal best-ever second place in the CL but wins became much scarcer this year and they plummeted to a worst-ever seventh placing on the league table.

Not surprisingly Ifill’s appointment to the Wairarapa United job made headlines all around the country, and was widely lauded as a major coup for the club.

It signalled the end of a memorable five A-League seasons for the Phoenix during which he scored a record 33 goals and became the darling of the “Yellow Fever” supporters group.

He had also made a decent impact before then in England where his league appearances included 238 games for Millwall from 1998 to 2005, during which time he scored 40 goals and was a member of the side which lost 3-0 to Manchester United in the 2004 FA Cup final.

Wairarapa United president Phil Keinzley went after Ifill for the head coach job as soon it became clear that a ruptured achilles injury was threatening to end his stint with the Phoenix, something that did eventually occur.

In an interview with the Wairarapa Times-Age Keinzley said he had harassed Ifill “majorly” about coming to Wairarapa because he had everything the club was looking for, profile, character, ethics … “he was pretty much the complete package”.

It was Keinzley who announced yesterday that Wairarapa United was now in the process of seeking a new head coach for their Central League side but he was still at pains to pay tribute to Ifill’s contribution both as a coach and a player.

“Paul did a lot to attract quality players to the region and he’s also done a lot to enhance the skills of our junior players through his academy, he has been a real asset in many ways.”

Keinzley said the decision to oust Ifill was “very difficult” to make and it was driven not only by results but by financial considerations as well. Asked when a new coach would be appointed he anticipated that would happen sometime next week.

For Ifill the news of his sacking was not entirely unexpected.

“Obviously it’s disappointing for me personally but I understand completely from where Phil and the club are coming from, the results this year weren’t good enough in their eyes and as a coach that’s something you have to wear.”

Ifill said he had no intention of walking away from football in Wairarapa, just the opposite in fact. He said being relieved of the Central League job would free up more time for him to focus on his Masterton-based academy where he trains about 80 youngsters each week, and has seen up to 200 children take part in his holiday programmes.

“Quite frankly nothing excites me more than coaching junior players and helping them build their skills. It’s going to be good to be able to put more time into that aspect of the game.”

Ifill has still to decide whether he will continue to make himself available to play for Wairarapa United in the Central League, saying that would very much depend on the new coaching regime and whether, in fact, they wanted him to be part of the action.

“It’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought to, we’ll just wait and see what happens.”

So would Paul Ifill say “yes” if another club somewhere in the country approached him to coach their premier side at some future time.

“You never say never but right now that’s certainly not something I’m thinking about. One thing I do know, coaching at the top levels is a lot different from playing. It’s not an easy transition to make, certainly not as easy as I thought it was going to be. I’d be the first to admit that.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. I guess when the man with all the money decided these things, no one has any say in it! Looks like nothing has changed at the club with Phil not consulting with anyone else.

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