Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante said the players were ‘extremely shocked’ to learn of Ricki Herbert’s resignation as head coach.
The announcement was made on Tuesday, although not before the players had learned of it via social media.
“We were informed last night that there was going to be a meeting,” Durante said.
“We weren’t sure what the meeting was about and obviously, how it got leaked and I don’t know how it got leaked, it got leaked.
“It was splashed all over Fox Sports News when I got up this morning as well.
“The boys got into training not knowing what the meeting was about and then (general manager) David Dome told us what it was about and everyone was just really shocked.
“No-one really said much.”
The Phoenix play Newcastle Jets in Wellington on Wednesday, and assistant coach Chris Greenacre will be in charge for that game and for the remainder of the season.
“Greenie said a bit (at the meeting) and the boys just said ‘we’ve got to get on with it. We’ve got a game tomorrow night and we can’t really dwell on it too much’.”
Durante admitted it was disappointing the players were the last to know.
“(But) these things are hard to keep (quiet). People talk and it got out,” he said.
“We would have loved to have known first-hand without seeing it from somewhere else definitely.
“But I guess the club will learn from that.”
Durante was adamant Herbert did have the full backing of the players despite the run of poor results and performances.
Wellington have been in and around the foot of the table for most of the season despite starting the campaign talking about being title contenders.
They have struggled to adapt to a more attacking style of football new owners Welnix consortium desired, and have managed just one win in their past nine matches.
“He had the full support of the players,” Durante said.
“It’s been a really tough year. There has been lots and lots of soul-searching.
“Ricki has been my coach for five years. He’s been my longest-serving coach I’ve ever had as a professional. I’ve had some fantastic memories with him as coach.
“He’s been a great servant for the club. But he just thought his time was up and it was time to get new faces in.
“As players you always support the person in charge. Ricki had our full support. If he had stayed on to the end of the year then so be it. We would have kept trying and trying to get results. That’s the decision that has happened and we’ve got to live with it.”
Durante also admitted the players felt some responsibility for Herbert’s departure as coach.
“I’ve been in clubs before where coaches have gone and you always think ‘could I have done more’? It’s always sad,” he said.
“He’s been my coach for a long time and I’ve got really close ties with Ricki and he’s been a good friend to me. It’s very sad to see him go.
“I know players individually will think ‘could I have done more?’ But at the end of the day he came to that decision himself and we have to look forward now.”
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