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Eastern Suburbs - The Lilywhites

My quest to take New Zealand football to a whole new level
Started on 15 March 2018 by Feliks / First Post
Latest Reply on 25 March 2018 by ScottT / Last Post
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Feliks's avatar Group Feliks
1 yearEdited

Eastern Suburbs Reveal Nelsen As New Manager



ASB Premiership side Eastern Suburbs have announced former New Zealand international Ryan Nelsen as their next manager on a four year deal.

The appointment is seen as a major coup for not only the club but the competition, with Nelsen widely viewed as one of the All-Whites' greatest ever players. The 39 year old's last (and first) managerial role was at MLS side Toronto FC in 2014 but that experience alone makes him one of the most accomplished managers in the country.

Eastern Suburbs' chairman Chris Ruffell made the announcement at Bill McKinlay Park ahead of the club's pre-season training, with Nelsen set to arrive in the country from the United States in the coming days.

"Ryan is a terrific signing for our club as we look to improve over the next few seasons. He brings invaluable experience at the highest levels of the game and will be a great role model to younger players at the club.

The board have given Ryan our full financial backing in order to make whatever changes necessary to the squad. We believe he can lead the Lilywhites to the Premiership finals this season."



Eastern Suburbs will be looking to improve on their fifth placed finish in 2016/17 and the Lilywhites have a number of talented players for Nelsen to use, including captain Tim Payne and Nigerian import Emmanuel Ekpo.
Feliks's avatar Group Feliks
1 yearEdited

The Lilywhites: Auckland's Second Club



Formed in 1934, Eastern Suburbs are one of the most successful clubs in New Zealand but are regularly outshone by their cross-town rivals Auckland City.

The Lilywhites, as they are known, joined the New Zealand Premiership last season and finished a respectable 5th. The New Zealand league system includes four regional divisions with lower leagues as well as a standalone Premiership with no relegation, much like Australia's A-League. Eastern Suburbs, despite having entered the Premiership, still maintain a Reserves side in the regional Northern Premier League as well as an Under-20 side in the Youth Premier League.

Formed in 1934, Eastern Suburbs have won five Chatham Cups, which is the country's premier cup title despite not being open to Premiership clubs. The club has also won the Northern Premier League on 3 occasions, including their last season in 2015/16, and won the second ever national championship back in 1971.



Despite their success, the Lilywhites have often been outshone by cross-town rivals Auckland City, who can lay claim to being the most successful NZ club of the past decade. The Navy Blues were formed in 2004 for the inaugural season of the New Zealand Premiership and have gone onto win six titles, as well as a record nine Oceania Champions League trophies. Under the management of Spaniard Ramon Tribulietx, they look set to defend their most recent Premiership title in 2017/18.

Eastern Suburbs are an interesting side, with plenty of history in New Zealand football but virtually none in the country's standalone top flight. The Lilywhites have some talented players though, and a fifth placed finish in their first season in the Premiership is a great start to life in the top flight.
Feliks's avatar Group Feliks
1 yearEdited

Nelsen: Homegrown Lilywhites Will Dominate



New Eastern Suburbs manager Ryan Nelsen has announced his desire to build a homegrown side at the club and dominate New Zealand football.

In an era where most top New Zealand clubs are supplemented by a number of star foreign players, Nelsen wants to have an entirely home-grown squad in a bid to develop local talent and have a lasting effect on the national team as well.

"There's no reason we can't do it," Nelsen told attending journalists. "There's plenty of talent waiting to be discovered and developed in this country. We already have some great local players in the squad such as Timmy [Payne] and there's a number of players I already want to bring into the side."

Nelsen played 49 times for the New Zealand national side and said his philosophy not only ensured success for the club, but also for the All-Whites.

"When you've got an entirely homegrown squad, it's of course going to benefit the national side, especially if we can continue to develop high quality young players. Realistically, we have three squads - a Premiership squad, a Northern League squad, and a Youth Squad. That gives us the opportunity to develop up to 80 players at a time, most of which will be stars of the future."

Nelsen has assured that the current foreign players at the club, including Emmanuel Ekpo and Silvio Rodic, will not be violently forced out of the club or even the first team, but has conceded that the club is listening to offers.

"Look, we don't want to do anything wrong by the players. If they so wish, they will continue to play a vital role in the first team until they leave the club, and if they want to leave the club before the conclusion of their contracts, as long as it's reasonable, they will be compensated accordingly."

The philosophy is a bold one from Nelsen, and it remains to be seen whether or not it can pay off in the long run. On paper, it looks like a great strategy but a number of factors, including competitiveness and financial viability, will ultimately decide whether or not his home grown philosophy is successful.

First Casualty At Eastern Suburbs



Derek Tieku is the first Lilywhites player on the move, with the Ghanian winger released from his month-to-month contract at Bill McKinlay Park. The departure is set to be the first of many from the club's foreign contingent.

The former Fulham trainee moved to Auckland last year, playing 14 games in the Lilywhites' inaugural Premiership season, but has been deemed surplus to requirements by manager Ryan Nelsen and will look to ply his trade elsewhere.

Eastern Suburbs are also looking to offload a number of other foreign players, including Nigerian pair Emmanuel Ekpo and Osita Chikere, as well as Japanese winger Fabian Kurimata and Croatian duo Borislav Simic and Silvio Rodic.

Nigerian Pair Gone For Big Bucks



Eastern Suburbs have pulled off the double sale of Nigerian stars Emmanuel Ekpo and Osita Chikere, with both players quite literally moving to the other side of the world.

Ekpo, a 29 year old midfielder with experience in the MLS, has moved to Norwegian side Rosenborg for £350,000 whilst towering striker Chikere will play for Rosenborg's rivals Molde FK after a £500,000 deal was agreed.

The pair had a limited impact in their first season at McKinlay Park, but are undoubtedly talented players. The deal is said to set the club up well financially whilst also giving new manager Ryan Nelsen a considerable budget to attract local players.

Lilywhites Academy Established



Eastern Suburbs have announced the establishment of the Auckland Centre of Excellence, a youth academy aimed at developing the next crop of star New Zealand footballers.

The academy will be based out of the Lilywhites' home ground, Bill McKinlay Park, but the club is looking to expand the operation in the coming years to give the Centre of Excellence its own standalone facilities.

The announcement has coincided with a large induction of young footballers into the club, with around 40 players between the ages of 15 and 17 joining the side. The Centre of Excellence will look to recruit high quality youth coaches to aid in these players' development.

Ryan Nelsen spoke to journalists at McKinlay Park about the announcement.



"We're really excited to be establishing this academy and deliver our promise of bringing through the next New Zealand stars. For now, the academy players will train using the first team facilities but we hope, in the next couple of years, that we can set up their own facilities.

In terms of playing time, the more advanced academy players will get to play in our Reserves side, in the Northern Premier League, whereas the younger players will play for our youth side in the Under-20 competition. This ensures maximum gametime for all academy players, which will aid greatly in their development.

Despite being called the Auckland Centre of Excellence, we will be accepting players from all over New Zealand, either through players approaching us for trials or our scouts finding talented players and bringing them here. We believe this policy will not only allow us to sign talented players but will also ensure the club's financial future as it allows us to cut transfer spending considerably. With that then comes the ability to expand the academy even further, so in the end it really is a win-win situation."

Lilywhites Secure Service Of Milne



Scottish-born left back Andrew Milne will go down as Ryan Nelsen's first ever transfer at the helm of Eastern Suburbs, moving on a free transfer from Onehunga Sports.

The 25 year old spent a season with Onehunga in the Northern Premier League, playing against the Lilywhites' reserve side on two occasions , and will now get a chance to revitalise his Premiership career after two stints with reigning champions Auckland City.

Milne also has experience in a world class academy, spending time at Rangers in his late teens thanks in part to his Scottish heritage. Now at 25, he is approaching his best years and will be hoping to make a lasting contribution on the left flank for the Lilywhites.

Payne Raring To Go



There's still several weeks until the beginning of the Premiership season but Eastern Suburbs captain Tim Payne has told journalists the opening day could not come sooner for the Lilywhites.

The 23 year old is one of the youngest captains in the Premiership but already has senior international experience with New Zealand stretching back to his debut as an 18 year old in 2012. He is almost unanimously considered to be the Lilywhites' best player, especially after the departure of Emmanuel Ekpo, and is thought to be central to any chance of success for the Auckland-based club.

So for Payne to be so enthusiastic and optimistic about his club's chances this season will undoubtedly give hope to the Lilywhite faithful.

"Oh yeah, no doubt, I'm very keen for the season to start. There's so much positive energy around the club, I reckon we'll have a real good shot at the title. Ryan [Nelsen] knows his stuff and we have a number of players we're looking to bring in to boost the squad, not to mention the amount of talented youngsters we've got through the academy. The thought of being part of something big, a home grown team, inspires us to train well."
It is nice to see you returning with a story, as everybody knows you bring quality to the forum! Looking forward to seeing how this goes!

Lovemore To Lead The Lines



Former Lilywhites striker Sean Lovemore has returned to the club and has been labelled the team's number one striker by his new manager Ryan Nelsen.

The 25 year old striker played just 8 times in his last stint at the club, scoring twice, but already his form at training has left Nelsen impressed with the attacker's ability.

"I didn't have much knowledge of Sean, as he left before I came in, but I've been very impressed with his work rate and effort on the training track. I have a lot of faith that he'll be a top, top striker in the Premiership this season."

Lovemore is the second announced signing for Eastern Suburbs, after left back Andrew Milne, but many more are thought to be on the way as the club builds its squads for the Premiership and Northern Premier League campaigns.
Some really lovely stuff here, I love reading about new leagues and will be watching.
Let's hope he can catapult the club to success!

Talented Youngsters Join Eastern Suburbs



There's been a high volume of players joining Premiership side Eastern Suburbs but two local youngsters have generated considerable excitement at their potential.

Oliver Wortelboer and Phil McGarry, both 17, joined the Lilywhites after impressing on trial and will play for the club's reserve side rather than the Under-20s like many of their fellow trialists. Eastern Suburbs manager Ryan Nelsen has pumped up their ability and labelled them the most promising youngsters at the club.

Wortelboer is a hard working right back from Auckland, with good stamina and speed. He's expected to be a solid presence on the flanks for the B side, but needs to work on his crossing in order to be more of a threat going forward. At just 17, he's already seen as not far off the first team but will be given a full season to develop rather than thrusting him into Premiership action.

Meanwhile, Phil McGarry's current ability is not as high as Wortelboer but the dimunitive attacking midfielder is thought to have a very high ceiling. He needs to work on the physical aspects of the game but will undoubtedly bring a level of flair and creativity to the reserves side throughout the season.

Nelsen's Comprehensive Control Revealed



The full extent of Ryan Nelsen's commitment to Eastern Suburbs has been revealed by one of the club's directors.

Nelsen, 39, is not only the first team manager but also a director, having purchased a 25% stake in the ownership of the club. The purchase, said to be worth around £750,000, has made Nelsen a powerful man around the club both on and off the field.

The former All-White has also announced he will be taking control of all three of the Eastern Suburbs sides, including the reserves and youth teams. He will be aided by a number of assistants in both teams, who will take control of the side when the first team are playing on the same day. However, Nelsen has final say on tactics and player movement for all sides.

Some fans have criticised Nelsen's control on the club, claiming it makes him less accountable for his job, but Nelsen has assured the club that he will step back from his involvement if the on-field performances aren't up to scratch.
Nelsen will be keeping himself busy!

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