Greenacre calls for Phoenix to focus after Herbert exit

Caretaker boss wants players to strive for right result in Wednesday's match at home to Newcastle Jets after Herbert tenure ends

Interim head coach Chris Greenacre says Wellington Phoenix cannot afford to dwell on the resignation of Ricki Herbert if they are to stand any chance of making the A-League finals this year.

Herbert, Wellington's head coach since their entry to the competition in 2007, handed in his resignation to the Phoenix board on Monday morning but the players found out about it via social media before having it confirmed officially just prior to training on Tuesday.

Greenacre will take charge for the remainder of the season and said despite the sadness at seeing Herbert move on – to a technical football advisor role – the players must quickly refocus on Wednesday night's match against Newcastle Jets.

"It's a sad time for me personally. Ricki is the reason why I'm in New Zealand and my family is in New Zealand," said Englishman Greenacre, the club's former striker who was signed by Herbert in 2009.

"He's my mentor. He's given me my first job in coaching and I'll be eternally grateful for him for that.

"It's a real sad time for the club. But the reality is that we've got a game tomorrow night and we have to move emotions to the side and we have to get on with the job of getting three points tomorrow.

"That's what we stressed to the boys this morning. We want to do that. We need to move on quite quickly and we have to get three points tomorrow."

Greenacre, who found out on Monday that Herbert was quitting, was full of praise for the outgoing coach's contribution to the club. He led the Phoenix for more than 150 A-League games, while also coaching New Zealand to the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals.

"Ricki has been a massive part of this club since it began. The legacy he has left is a tremendous legacy," he said.

"The guy is just to be admired absolutely. I can't speak highly enough of him.

"But again we've got to move on quickly and get three points. I need to get this club in the playoffs.

"That's what we need to achieve. The squad is too good not to be in the playoffs. We've made it for the last three years and there is no reason why we still can't do that this year."

Greenacre revealed it had been a "shock to the system" when the players had been told on Tuesday morning.

But he has also moved quickly to ensure it does not become another unwanted distraction.

"We said the next six weeks you've got to eat, breathe, sleep this football club. That's all that matters. Other than your families this is the most important thing in your lives," he said.

"And we'll be giving everything we can to make sure that this club is in the playoffs at the end of the season. That has to be the way forward.

"Whatever agendas, the feelings, you were in the team or out of the team, it's a fresh start and it's about us gaining those three points tomorrow."