EXCLUSIVE: Chris Greenacre’s fabulous form is likely to see the English striker continue playing next season in his dual role as a striker and an assistant coach.
Club officials confirmed they were in discussions with the 34-year-old about continuing his double role.
It’s understood any coaching role next season will be linked with the new academy structure the Kiwi outfit are putting in place in the future.
“I’ve said to Ricki, if you need me I’ll be there,” Greenacre told au.fourfourtwo.com in Sydney yesterday.
“You’re a long time dead. I love it. It’s the best feeling. I’d snap off my hand to be 18 again and starting my career.
“It’s the best lifestyle ever. I’m staying at Bondi beach for eight days, what could be better?" he said.
“It’s a good level of football here, it’s televised, and the stadiums are great, great crowds. It’s nice to be cared about and looked after.
“And if I was back home I wouldn’t likely be doing an interview with FourFourTwo.”
With the former Stoke City, Manchester City and Tranmere forward in such handy form for Ricki Herbert’s side, the club are keen to see if he can produce again next season.
Greenacre’s started in all 22 games this season, scoring four times with 33 attempts on goal. His hold up play and hard work off the ball in harrying defenders and deep-lying midfielders have all caught the eye.
And he’s set to start on Saturday afternoon working off Paul Ifill when Phoenix head to the SFS for a clash with the Sky Blues that will have a major bearing on the finals fortunes of both sides.
“I didn’t expect to play so many games this year,” Greenacre added.
Aside from playing, Greenacre takes the occasional drill at training as he begins his coaching education under one of the stars of the dugout at the 2010 World Cup, Ricki Herbert.
Phoenix are managing the Wakefield-born player’s training load to maximize the output this season.
And they hope his output in coaching will help the club in years to come.
He takes training drills – such as Thursday’s session in Sydney where he ran – and was part of - a shooting drill at the end of the 90 minute session.
“I have to concentrate on both but my concentration probably drifts towards the coaching side as I’m trying to see how everybody is doing," he explained.
Greenacre is also set to take his English “A” licence in the off-season.
Throughout his career – which began at the old Maine Road in Manchester in 1995 – Greenacre has taken note of sessions he’s liked and training ideas that resonated with him.
“I want sessions to be interesting. I don’t want players to say, ‘oh, this again’. I want variety.
“It’s a respect thing,” he added of Herbert. “To have a high profile coach like that to go out of his way to help you is like, ‘wow, this is great’.
“To learn off him is a fantastic opportunity. He’s coached at World Cups; he’s taken us to the play-offs. And as you saw today, it’s exciting to watch.
“If he can help make me the best coach I can, that’s all I can ask for.”
And the dream coaching job? “The English Premier League one day… to do that with Leeds as well would be very special.”
Phoenix midfielder Alex Smith hailed his teammate as a true club man.
“It’s an interesting dynamic switching from player to coach but he does it well," Smith told au.fourfourtwo.com. "Greeny does so much work for the team. He’s invaluable.
“He’s 34 but has a bigger engine than anyone on the team. He’s tireless up front and it makes our jobs in midfield easy when he’s chasing back.
“He doesn’t take a lot of stick from the boys,” he added of his coaching drills. “Sometimes we give it to him but he’s been around long enough and is respected enough, so we listen."
The debate about a coach’s background flared up againt recently in Australia.
The English-born Greenacre’s take on the question echoes many. “I don’t think it matters,” he said. “As long as they understand the game and have a background in the game.”
And as for the brand of football, he points to some of the biggest clubs in the world as a marker to the local game.
“We played Brisbane Roar in pre-season in 2010 and what they were trying to do just didn’t work," he said. "They twice tried to play out from the back and we caught them out and were up 2-0 early in the game.
“We were thinking there’s no way they can kind of play like that. And then after that, it was just phenomenal.
“And for a time, teams suddenly started to play like Brisbane. Suddenly centre halves were splitting as wide as possible and keepers were throwing the ball here and there.
“So the league has definitely developed.”
Asked if he likes that style of play, Greenacre said there needs to be a balance.
“At times here, teams over-play,” he said. “Sometimes the ball has to go long. Sometimes you have to turn the other team around.
"You’ve got to earn that right to play in any game, and sometimes [in the A-League], they over-play, the game gets shot and it gets tighter and tighter and the outlet’s elsewhere but you still try to play out.
“Sometimes, you need a team that knows when to play and when not to play. If you have that, you’ll have a very good team.
“Watch even Manchester United, Liverpool, at times they do go long."
He added: "But I do like the way teams like Brisbane play, I just think there’s a time and a place for it.”
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