Otago United striker Aaron Burgess shows his frustration
after a missed opportunity against Manawatu at Forsyth Barr
Stadium in November. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Richard Murray is looking forward to a break but hopes he
will get another opportunity to coach Otago United.
Murray's role will inevitably come under the spotlight after
another disappointing season in the ASB Premiership. Otago
won two games and lost 14, and avoided the wooden spoon only
through goal difference.
But the second-year coach is adamant - although the results
do not show it - his young team has made progress.
''We were unlucky in some games, and because we didn't get
consistent results, we didn't really build our confidence,''
Murray said yesterday.
''I thought we were playing better football, just not getting
the results. It's frustrating. The boys have definitely
improved but we're not scoring enough goals and we're still
making silly mistakes.''
Murray said he could not hide behind the facts. Five wins
from 28 games over two seasons was a poor record.
But he felt he and assistant coach Andy Duncan had worked
hard to develop younger players on Otago's strict budget,
andthe team was starting to play some good football.
A board review will consider the coaching positions, and
Murray hopes he will get backing for a third season.
''After our last game, I said that was probably me. But I do
want to stay on. It was always going to be difficult. The
players and I have stepped up to a different level, and I'm
learning all the time.
''I want to build on what we've done. The board have been
supportive over this season. Hopefully, we'll continue to
head in the same direction and get results to back it up.
''The reality is there is not much money around and we have
to focus on developing our young guys and playing for each
other. This was always going to be a two, three, four-year
project. It takes some time to build experience from
Murray does not regret encouraging a team philosophy to chase
games, rather than sit back and be satisfied with a narrow
defeat. More than once, Otago was in spitting distance late,
only to concede another goal or two.
''It's hard when you look back at a scoreline and see 4-1,
and you don't think that reflects the game. But I'd rather we
push on and try to get a result and take some risks.''
He acknowledged the side was missing some grunt and
experience. Injuries and losing players to northern teams had
Closing the gap even to the mid-level teams, let alone to
giants Auckland and Waitakere, seems difficult without a
serious injection of capital - and that is not going to
happen - but Murray is optimistic.
''It's going to take time. We're playing against teams with
greater resources, and teams with vastly experienced guys.
''At some stage, we'll close the gap. We're not that far off
Hawkes Bay and Canterbury. We just need to get our heads
around beating them.
''It might not look like it looking at the table, but we're
not that far away. We can get results against those teams.''
Between Otago United and club side Caversham, Murray has
coached four seasons, back-to-back. He intends to step back
from club coaching, letting veteran Tim Horner take charge.
That will allow Murray to refresh and prepare for next
season, presuming he retains the Otago role.