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Buckingham and Greenacre get Phoenix nod

NZN 1/01/2017

Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre will coach the Wellington Phoenix for the remainder of the A-League season.

The pair took over when Ernie Merrick resigned four weeks ago, and have since guided the team to three draws and a win.

Under Football Federation Australia regulations Buckingham, who holds a Pro Licence, will be head coach.

Greenacre, a former striker with the club who has an A Licence, will be co-coach.

Buckingham said he was looking forward to the challenge.

"I still think this team is capable of making the top four which was our aim at the start of the season," he said.

"It is good that we have gone four games unbeaten, which I've been told hasn't happened since February 2015, but we could have won all three with a bit of luck."

Buckingham and Greenacre both paid tribute to Merrick's work in their development as coaches.

"We have been fortunate to have worked with Ernie Merrick, who upskilled us and exposed us to a lot of stuff that wouldn't have happened with other coaches at other clubs," Buckingham said.

Greenacre, a former Manchester City and Tranmere Rovers striker who scored 17 goals in three seasons with the Phoenix, said he was pleased to have the coaching situation decided.

"To lose our mentor was tough but that is the nature of the game of football and it has presented us with a fantastic challenge and life is all about challenges," he said

Wellington Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison said the club's board were confident Buckingham and Greenacre could take the team through to the A-League play-offs.

Wellington, who fought out a dour scoreless draw with defending champions Adelaide United on Sunday, sit eighth on the ladder, two points astray of fifth-placed Perth Glory.

"We interviewed a number of excellent candidates but with the run of games we have through January, we felt it was too difficult for any new coach to get to grips with a new squad and the challenges of coaching in the A-League," Morrison said.

"We have a really good squad, and Des and Chris impressed with their views on what needed to change and how to get the best from the squad."

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