Mark Jones throws hat in ring

FORMER Jets assistant coach Mark Jones would not hesitate to return to China despite his time at Chongqing Lifan FC being cut short.

Jones is back in Newcastle after he and head coach Lawrie McKinna, the former Central Coast Mariners boss, parted ways with the second-tier club last month.

‘‘The expectations over there were huge,’’ Jones said.

‘‘We won every game in the pre-season but unfortunately got off to a slow start to the league.

‘‘We opened with two draws at home and then lost three on the road.

‘‘Because we had done so well in the pre-season, winning 10 games, the expectation was that we would go back up into the Super League.

‘‘There was enormous pressure and the interference became greater and greater and that is when Lawrie decided the Chinese way was not his way.’’

Jones spent five months in Chongqing, which has a population of almost 30million and is the fastest-growing city in China.

‘‘It was an amazing experience,’’ he said.

‘‘The city itself and the football side of it. The facilities more than match anything in the A-League

‘‘Our club, which was owned by Lifan Motors, had four training fields, a fully equipped gym, games room, video production room, four levels of living quarters, a kitchen, swimming pool, a couple of team buses, three or four drivers and three doctors.

‘‘It was a proper football base. The players live in except the married ones, but they must be present for all meals.

‘‘The stadiums were all Olympic-sized, and for a local derby we had crowds of 25,000 to 30,000.

‘‘When you go up to the Super League it is bigger again. I’d love to go back.’’

Apart from the weight of expectation, Jones said the cultural differences were the biggest challenge.

‘‘Because Chongqing is not westernised, like Beijing or Shanghai, not many people speak English,’’ he said.

‘‘We had a translator, but trying to coach through a translator is extremely difficult. Mainly the tactical things, especially from the sideline when you are trying to alter things during the course of a game.

‘‘I learnt some basic Mandarin, enough to say tuck in, get forward, keep your shape and the basic numbers.

‘‘It was an education process, not just for us but the players as well.

‘‘We changed the way they did gym sessions. I concentrated on trying to improve their power and strength and worked a lot on technique, which they hadn’t done.

‘‘There was also a mentality that field sessions should be two hours minimum and they should just run.’’

Jones is without a job. The Jets youth team are likely to require a new head coach after Arthur Papas left for Mumbai on Sunday and a position with the Indian federation.

‘‘I’d love to be considered for the Jets youth team if Arthur doesn’t return,’’ Jones said. ‘‘I’m a Newcastle boy and believe I am the most qualified person by a mile.

‘‘Failing that, you just have to hope something comes up.

‘‘I had a meeting with Football Federation Australia national technical director Han Berger today in Sydney. He was quite receptive.

‘‘I’d be interested in a director or coaching position or academy coach.’’

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