Five coaches that could replace Ernie Merrick as Wellington Phoenix boss

Ernie Merrick is gone and the A-League has its first managerial casualty of the season, albeit through a shock resignation. The search for an adequate replacement has already begun.

Ramon Tribulietx

The Spaniard is seen as the number one contender. He has coached his Auckland City side since 2010, winning six OFC Champions League titles, four New Zealand Football Championship Premiers, two NZ Football Championship titles, three charity cups and an OFC presidents cup.

Most significantly, he has guided Auckland City to five appearances in the Club World Cup (their sixth will duly arrive on December 8) and in 2014 his team were seconds away from facing Real Madrid in the final, but they eventually settled for an inexplicable bronze medal.

After being linked with multiple moves away from Auckland City over the years, with potential jobs with the Brisbane Roar and the Solomon Islands falling through, this could finally be Tribulietx’s time to make the move from semi-pro football into a fully professional environment.

Frank Farina

Previous experience for Farina includes a nine-year stint with the Socceroos, also with Fiji, coaching their senior and under-23 men’s sides, as well as time with A League outfits Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC. He could be a great fit with the Wellington Phoenix who are crying out for a boss that can get the best out of their precociously talented players in attacking areas.

Ante Milicic

Socceroos assistant Milicic could be the answer to the Phoenix’s woes. With lengthy experience under Ange Postecoglou, John van’t Schip and Tony Popovic, the 41-year-old could be an ideal replacement in what would be his first role as head coach. If not the Phoenix, it won’t be long before another club snap him up.

Luciano Trani

Speaking of assistant coaches ready to make the head coach leap, Radio Sport NZ’s Jason Pyne revealed that Trani has already put his hat in the ring to replace Merrick.

Having spent time with the club between 2009-11, before gaining further experience in an A-League set-up with Adelaide United, Brisbane Roar, Melbourne Heart/City and Newcastle Jets. Trani might just be the one that surprises us all by landing the gig.

Chris Greenacre

Is it time for the current assistant coach to finally get his shot at the big time job? Having played for the Nix from 2009-12 and after many years honing his skills as a pro in the English leagues, it could be his moment to add top-level coach to his burgeoning resume. The club have insisted that a replacement will be found before Christmas, and with Greenacre and Des Buckingham taking the role on a joint interim basis, a few wins on the trot could put Greenacre’s name into the forefront of possible replacements.