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Merrick quits Phoenix at second attempt

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/12/2016 Cathy Walshe

Wellington Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison managed to talk coach Ernie Merrick out of quitting five weeks ago, but was left no chance to do the same on Sunday.

After a shade over three years in the job, and at a team dinner following the Phoenix's 2-0 away loss to Adelaide, Merrick told his players that he was resigning.

He then texted Morrison in Wellington to inform him of his decision.

Merrick told a media conference in Wellington on Tuesday that he had originally offered to resign following the Phoenix's horror 6-1 loss to Melbourne Victory on October 31.

"The last time I spoke to him about resigning was after the Victory game, and he talked me out of resigning," Merrick said.

"So this time I told the players first, and told Rob afterwards."

Merrick said the Victory's 6-1 pounding of Wellington in round five had been hard to take.

"Over the start of the season, there were just so many things I was not happy with and it just culminated in the Victory game.

"I don't recall losing to a score like that," he said.

"I said to Rob 'look, I'll give it another three or four weeks and we'll see what we can turn around.'

"But it hasn't really turned around, so I stood by the decision to step down."

The Phoenix have recorded just two wins and six losses from eight games, and aren't where they should be, Merrick said.

But with five of their next seven games in New Zealand, the time was right to step down and give a new coach the best possible start.

"It's tough, though - it's not easy to walk away from a good team."

Morrison said Merrick's original resignation offer wasn't a formal one, and he had wanted to see whether Merrick could make things work.

"Sometimes you can get most of your ducks aligned, but there's an X factor that sits there that you can't quite figure out.

"You can do all your homework, have all your resources lined up, have the right people and make the right investment decisions but there's something else that's missing," Morrison said.

"All I asked him the last time we spoke was, give it a nudge, change it up, see if you can find that X factor.

"We've got a really good playing group, we know we've got a good playing style and we know the coaching's been right.

"But there's something that's not quite there."

It was to Merrick's credit that he recognised this, Morrison said.

"One of the things that has always stood out for me with Ernie is the ego doesn't get in the way ... it's never been about him, it's always been about the club."

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