2022-23 SEASON REVIEW - TEAM WELLINGTON
After much deliberation, where I talked things over with friends, family, and former managers: I decided it was time to depart Team Wellington. It hadn’t been an easy decision to make, as I've enjoyed my time here tremendously, but it makes sense to depart after such a successful campaign. It’s a risk that I feel that I need to take, and although there aren't any jobs of interest to me at the moment: I'm sure that’ll change soon.
I've now told the club that they can start to look for a new manager, and I've packed up my unit too. It’s a shame to be moving on, but it’s the right thing to do for my career. If I'm stuck here too long: I’ll never be able to get out.
The board expected us to get into the post-season playoffs, so the fact that we finished top of the table, and went on to win the playoffs: that made them very happy.
Our dominance in the league was noticeable, and our fans responded to our dominance by helping us have the highest average attendance in the league, with us averaging 1,388 a game: 69% of our capacity. We won a host of awards over the course of the season [team-wise and player-wise], whilst I was quite honoured to have been named as ‘Manager of the Year’ for the league.
It’s been a real redemption story for the club in the league, and I'm pleased to have played my part.
Once again: we surpassed the expectations of the board in this competition. They were only expecting us to make the semi-final stage, so naturally: they're pleased that we went on to win the competition.
I found this competition quite annoying to be honest, as it just went for too damn long. There was too big of a gap in the fixtures, and the length of the off-season could be so much longer for the players if this competition was wrapped up by the end of June or July. It’s just silly the way that they schedule it, and I was relieved when it was all over.
There was no minimum expectations placed on this competition, so I placed no importance on it either. Should I have given it more respect? Possibly. At the end of the day: I'm not losing any sleep over not winning it.
There's an argument to be had that I shouldn’t leave the club until I've won every piece of domestic silverware that New Zealand has to offer, but I'm not willing to hang around another year for a trophy that the board places absolutely no importance on. That being said: I kind of wish I’d won it!
This was the competition that I was most desperate to win, and that feeling was matched by the board: they expected us to reach the final. Considering where the club was when I got here, and the fact that I'm still not sure how we even qualified to be in the competition this season: they seemed overly ambitious in a way.
Thankfully: we met their expectations. I had such a fun time in the OFC Champions League, and it was such a pleasure to be able to repay the initial show of faith that the club had in me by winning it. I was certainly helped by the players that I've been able to bring to the club, and the likes of Michael Olaha and Michael Uchebo ran riot in this competition.
I'm fortunate to have been able to build a remarkable squad here, within the budgets that the club has set me, and it’s a squad that could go on to become a real force here in New Zealand. With that being said, there's always a chance that there’ll be departures, but for now: almost everyone is staying. Michael McGlinchey is retiring, the club has told me that Michael Uchebo won’t have his contract renewed due to his age , and they're now telling me that Nigel Hasselbaink won’t have his contract renewed due to his age  too. It’s frustrating: they both deserve new deals!
I've already made a few moves for next season, with Fijian central-midfielder Dan Hall agreeing to join the club, whilst Cook Islands international striker Maro Bonsu-Maro will join too. There’ll definitely be a more “Oceanic” vibe about the club next season, which is something that I wanted to try to implement.
Below are the final statistics of our squad:
In a move that was quite a shock, in a good way, the club also announced that there’ll be an expansion to the stadium carried out. Due to the council owning the stadium, it’s them that’ll be footing the bill for it, and the 2,000 capacity will become 4,595 at the conclusion of the expansion. Credit where credit’s due: this is a great move by the club. With the progress that they're making on-and-off the pitch, it’s only a matter of time before attendances will rise more than they already have, and it’ll be a wonderful atmosphere.
Whilst I'm sad that I won’t be at the club to re-open David Farrington Park, I'm happy for everyone that will be. Maybe one day I’ll return to the club: as a spectator.
@Tango: It was quite an exciting final for the spectators, who got their money's worth in terms of the entertainment they witnessed. Regarding any moves... I can neither confirm, nor deny, where Drago might be headed! I imagine it'll come out in the comings days!