A-League outfit Wellington Phoenix have signed former Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick as their new boss for next season.
Merrick will take over from interim boss Chris Greenacre, who stood in at the end of last season following the departure of long-term coach Ricki Herbert.
The Phoenix took a number of months to make their decision on the appointment of Merrick, but chairman Rob Morrison insists they have made the right choice.
"Ernie has an unrivalled record in the A-League," Morrison said. "His 12 years at the Victoria Institute of Sport, as well as his work with Melbourne Victory youth, demonstrates a proven track record in developing youth and bringing them through to the first team, something which is a core strategic pillar of the Phoenix.
"He also fully understands the long-term strategy the club is implementing and is supportive of that approach. Ernie's presentation showed that he has all the skills to lead the Phoenix to the top of the A-League.
"His clearly articulated football philosophy and attention to detail was strongly underpinned by his sports science skills and that gave him a unique combination of attributes. His skill set definitely gave him a distinct edge. Another plus was that his knowledge of the A-League and its players is exceptional."
Merrick will aim to turn around Wellington's fortunes, after the club finished bottom of the A-League last term. The two-time championship winner, though, believes he can bring a winning attitude to the club.
"My coaching philosophy has always been about winning. That's what I will be bringing to the Phoenix," he said.
"I'm also happy to be back in the A-League. I had six years at Victory but this is a new challenge entirely. It is unusual for one team to represent a country and it presents me with a great challenge. There is great potential at the club and there must be a lot of talented young players in New Zealand to draw on.
"I focused on producing young players at the Victoria Institute of Sport and at Melbourne Victory, and one of my most important roles at the Phoenix will be to provide input into the type of structure that will groom up and coming players for the first team."