Anthony Hudson is a manager on a mission, aiming to take New Zealand to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and make a splash with the All Whites. From coaching at Tottenham Hotspur under the watchful eye of Harry Redknapp, to leading Bahrain's Olympic and then senior team, Hudson has carved out a reputation as one of the brightest up and coming managers. We went to speak to the New Zealand boss, talking settling into his job, leaving Bahrain, plans for the future and much more.
Inside Futbol (IF): How have you settled in as New Zealand coach? Do you feel fully up to speed?
Anthony Hudson (AH): In the last month or so, I finally felt like I understand the landscape of football here and understand the role, exactly what is needed and I’m more comfortable about what has to be done.
IF: Has anyone especially helped you out? Proved invaluable for their advice and guidance?
AH: Actually I couldn't name one person, but I will say that New Zealand is an incredible place for coach development. There are so many resources and people here to help. All the people here want New Zealand to do well, regardless of what sport they compete in. So there are many people here that offer advice and support.
IF: Do you find it a challenge having so many of your players scattered across the globe? How do you track their form and progress?
AH: Yes, it’s a big challenge and something that we are addressing and finding solutions to for our context. In order to track the players we have software to watch the games, we have contacts (scouts), we also watch games live on TV if we can or we go to local games. We also travel overseas from time to time and get to see games then, too.
IF: Is the success of Wellington Phoenix in the A League important for New Zealand football?
AH: Yes, it’s very important. We are all working very hard to grow football here and the Phoenix are doing a great job.
IF: Given New Zealand are in the Oceania Football Confederation, with many smaller countries, do friendlies take on a greater importance as you build towards the World Cup?
AH: With less contact time than most, every game now is critical. What is important now as we start to rebuild the team, is that we get our organisation of everything on and off the pitch right and that performances are strong. Once we get our processes right we will then be in good shape going into our qualifiers.
IF: You’ll be firm favourites to qualify from Oceania for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Is that on your radar yet? How far are you looking ahead?
AH: Everything from 2018 backward is on our radar. The way forward for us is very clear.
IF: There has been much talk about one of your players, Winston Reid, potentially moving to Arsenal or Manchester United when his West Ham contract expires. Do you think Reid has it in him to hold down a place at one of the world’s biggest clubs?
AH: Yes, 100%. I have absolutely no doubt at all – and it's only a matter of when, not if.
IF: Was it a difficult decision to leave Bahrain to take over New Zealand? Do you regret having passed up on the chance to manage at the recent Asian Cup in Australia with Bahrain?
AH: I don't regret so much the chance of going to the Asian Cup as I do the chance to take that group of players to the Asian Cup. It was a special time, a special place and I loved every minute of it. But it was the right time and the right move. I'm happy with my decision and where we are headed now.
IF: What did you find to be the biggest challenges of coaching Bahrain? Was the language an issue?
AH: I think the biggest challenges were trying to plan long term – something that is difficult in the Middle East. The importance of the 'now' most of the time meant to compromise on achieving big success further down the line in big competitions.
IF: On international management, is it frustrating not getting to work with your players day in day out?
AH: Of course, it is frustrating. This is what I love. But to be able to take New Zealand to the World Cup, playing a certain style of football and making the country proud is an opportunity I’m very proud of and I get to do what I love doing. I can't complain at all.
IF: Was heading away from the UK when you left Newport County a conscious decision?
AH: The best thing that happened to me was the response from leaving Newport. It gave me a real boost, altered my attitude slightly and has made me work even harder. Peter Taylor is the man who I'm grateful to for giving me the opportunity to go to Bahrain.
IF: Is there anywhere in particularly you’d love to coach in future? Do you feel you’ve got unfinished business in English football?
AH: One day I want to be in the Premier League. And along the way who knows… but the end goal is clear: Champions League, World Cup and Premier League.